France: Savoie

Around Chambéry and Aix les Bains

Wines from the Combe de Savoie, Mont Granier & Jongieux
By Wink Lorch

This Guide was last updated on 18 July 2013
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Food specialities

Charcuterie: mountain hams - dried or smoked; saucissons (salami sausages) of many types including walnuts, hazelnuts or blueberries; and various terrines and pâtés are a common first course, matched ideally with a fresh white Jacquère-based white.

Fondue: fondue Savoyarde is no different from Swiss fondue, except that traditionally it is made using a local white wine together with the hard cheeses Beaufort (see below), French Gruyère or Comté and Emmental de Savoie. Drink with a local white, preferably a simple Apremont or other Jacquère-based white.

Tartiflette or Pela: these dishes based on Reblochon cheese, potatoes and onions originated in the Aravis region of Haute Savoie north of this micro-region. Pela may be the more traditional version and can be cooked on top of the stove, whereas the more common tartiflette is baked in the oven. Lardons are frequently added and crème fraiche may be used. Drink with a local white, preferably a simple Apremont or other Jacquère-based white.

Diots and Pormoniers sausages: local sausages – the first can be smoked or plain and are often cooked in white wine or even over vine cuttings; pormoniers are based on offal, spinach and herbs. Traditionally drunk with a local white, depending on what you serve them with, a Mondeuse red can often work well.

Farcement: a savoury ‘pudding’ of potatoes, dried fruit and sometimes chestnuts, usually surrounded with streaky bacon and served as an accompaniment to hams and pork dishes. The sweetness in the fruit means that a Chignin Bergeron matches better than a red.

Potée Savoyard: a rustic pork and vegetable slow-cooked stew, usually containing belly pork cooked ham and sausages with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Any local white or red would work with this.

Lake and river fish: the classic lake fish from the local Lac de Bourget include most notably Omble Chevalier (an alpine char) and Féra (almost like a large trout but firmer). Other fish that you will see on menus include Lavaret and Filets de Perche (perch) from Lac Léman; river trout is also offered regularly. A dry Roussette de Savoie makes a fine match.

Potatoes: as well as being the main ingredient for tartiflette/pela, potatoes are often served as gratin savoyarde (simply a potato gratin). Beignets de pomme de terre are a type of rösti but formed into sausage-shapes and sometimes served with starters including salads.

Polente: the local spelling for polenta – deemed local since the Duchy of Savoie included much of north-west Italy including Turin. It is served as an accompaniment to pork or rabit stews or sausages, and it may well be finished off with Beaufort cheese and crème fraiche.

Crozets: little squares of wheat pasta (buckwheat also available) usually served as a dish in its own right mixed with lardons, crème fraiche and Beaufort cheese.

Cardons: cardoons in English look like a giant celery, but are related to artichokes and part of the thistle family. They are usually only available in mid-winter and are prepared with a creamy and sometimes cheesy sauce. Pair with a Roussette de Savoie.

Cheeses: Savoie cheeses vie with Normandy to be the most famous in France. The most common cow cheeses are the AC Beaufort sometimes known as the ‘Prince des Gruyères’ as it is made in the same method but comes form the Beaufortain area above Albertville – it is aged for a minimum of six months and the best is summer Beaufort ‘Beaufort d’été’; Tomme de Savoie made anywhere in the area and of different ages and fat contents (Tome des Bauges is smaller and has its own AC); Reblochon a famous soft, nutty AC cheese traditionally from the Aravis mountain area around Thônes above Annecy, purchased as a whole cheese - Reblochon Fermier has a green seal and is only from the Aravis area, red seal Reblochon comes from anywhere in Savoie; Tamié is somewhat similar to Reblochon and comes from a monastery in the Bauges National Park. There are goats’ cheeses (including AC Chevrotin) which are made in a similar way to Reblochon so with a fairly soft texture and occasionally you will find expensive Brébis (sheeps’ cheese).

Gateau de Savoie: a very simple sponge cake – light with a delicious sweetness, sometimes served as a desert with Ile Flottante (also called Oeuf à la neige – or meringue in custard)

Tarte au Myrtilles: blueberry tart - blueberries grow wild on all the sub-alpine hillsides; this is the most commonly available fruit tart.

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