Jean Vullien and his two sons, David and Olivier
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Jacquère, Gamay, Mondeuse, Roussette, Roussanne
69 acres total planted on the hillsides of the Combe de Savoie to the following varieties: Jacquère: 4.94 acres in the cru Montmélian – labeled Vin de Savoie Montmélian, Roussette aka Altesse: 6.18 acres in various parcels – labeled Roussette de Savoie, Chardonnay: 9.88 acres – labeled Vin de Savoie Chardonnay (best parcels for Cuvée Prestige), Roussanne aka Bergeron: 15 acres in the cru Chignin – labeled Chignin-Bergeron, Gamay: 8.15 acres – labeled Vin de Savoie Gamay, Pinot Noir: 8.9 acres – labeled Vin de Savoie Pinot Noir (best parcels for Cuvée Jeannine), and Mondeuse: 16 acres including parcels in the crus St-Jean-de-la-Porte and Arbin. All parcels sustainably farmed (lutte raisonnée). Dark Jurassic limestone soils and black marl base with pebbly topsoil layer of scree (degraded limestone fragments that have accumulated over time from Massif des Bauges slopes above).
While this alpine area of eastern France may be better known for skiing than viticulture, a cadre of Savoyard vignerons are producing excellent wines. The region’s best come from a boomerang-shaped string of hillside villages between Grenoble and Albertville (site of the 1992 Winter Olympics) called the Combe de Savoie (Combe is a word of Celtic origin meaning a sharp, deep valley). Jean Vullien and his two sons, David and Olivier, tend 69 acres on the Combe in the villages of Chignin, Montmélian, Arbin, St-Jean de la Porte, and their hometown of Fréterive.
The domaine’s holdings include all of the region’s indigenous grape varieties, as well as strategically-placed parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the boys both graduated from La Lycée Viticole in Beaune). The wines range from a crisp, lemon and mineral Jacquère-based white that British wine author Andrew Jefford would categorize as “Muscadet of the Alps” to complex floral and spiced reds made from Mondeuse. In recent years, David and Olivier have also earned a reputation for their excellent Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines.
Though the Vulliens have been making wine for 40 years, the family is perhaps best known as a leader in another segment of the wine industry. Since 1890, Vullien Pépinière Viticole (vine nursery) has been supplying young vines to growers throughout France. In fact, they were the source for about 25% of the Chardonnay planted in Chablis after the ravages of phylloxera.