Mountain Value: 2011 Masson Apremont cuvee Lisa

Posted by Joe Salamone

Mineral-Laden Mountain Value
2011 Masson Apremont Cuvée Lisa
High-Altitude Value

"These constitute as a group the most fascinatingly delicious Jacquere-based wines of my rather long experience with this variety." -David Schildknecht

Unlike Schildknecht, above, I'd guess there is a rather good chance that you have NOT had a "long experience" with this quiet varietal, the work-horse grape of eastern France's mountainous border with Switzerland.

But you should - at this price you have so little to lose and so much to gain.

If you enjoy Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Riesling or Chenin Blanc, then you'll find plenty to like in the brisk, mountain wines of the Savoie.

Above all, these offer incredible value and plenty of fascination. Think of equal parts flower and mineral with waves of citrus and a feisty, steely acid backbone.

The increasing availability and quality of Savioe's wines is one of the more exciting recent developments for me. Judging by the positive responses we've had from previous Savoie offers (wines such as Belluard and Lupin), this excitement is shared by a good amount of you.

Value is a huge part of the story, the success, of the Savoie, yet with Jean-Claude Masson, one has to recognize the incredible quality. This is one of those rare value/quality paradigms that mirrors the awesome Clos des Briords of Pepière, the cult Tardive bottling of Roilette. Jacquere can be a generous grape - producers have been known to squeeze up to 100 hectoliters per hectare from the grape. Masson keeps yields VERY low for the region - around 35 hl/ha.

You can discern as much. As the Schildknecht quote, above, makes clear, Masson is able to coax every last bit of mineral-laden intrigue from the grape.

In the Savoie, this mountainous border region with Switzerland, the soils turn incredibly rocky and chalky. This is the home of Masson's Cuvée Lisa - a high-altitude limestone slope that enjoys an incredible view, great exposure and very cool nights.

You can taste this; the Cuvée Lisa offers up an intense medley of wet stones, smoke and a sneaking chalky richness. This emphatic minerality is complicated by currents of Meyer lemon, stone fruits and white flower.

For many years, the built-in local market for Savoie's wines (the region sees a huge amount of tourists on ski vacation) resulted in an ocean of mediocre wine. After a long day of skiiing, one's palate tends to focus more on refreshment, less on subtlety. Masson is part of a group of ambitious young growers who are working very hard to show just what the wines are capable of. And they are capable of a lot.

To call Masson quality- and terroir-obsessed, is a significant understatement. From only 9 hectares he bottles somewhere around eight different wines, all from Jacquere, focusing on subtle differences of terroir. Only the Germans seem capable of producing more bottlings from less land!

With low prices and high demand (much of Masson's production goes to discerning local customers as well as top restaurants in the area), the quantities available to the U.S. are scant. These are more ambassadors of a mountainous culture than they are a serious commercial presence. Currently, we are the only U.S. retailer with the bottles.

And soon, we'll be the only U.S. retailer who is sold out.

To order, please email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits