Monterminod is one of four named crus of the Roussette de Savoie appellation, situated above the village of Saint-Alban-Leysse in the Alps of far eastern France. Honeyed, full-bodied white wines with stonefruit and almond characters are produced in this small vineyard area, which is considered to be one of the best sites in Savoie to produce the Altesse grape variety.
© Wikimedia/Florian Pépellin
The vineyards of Monterminod are located on the hills that lie just north of Chambery, in the southern valleys of the administrative department of Savoie. This small area covers less than 10 acres (4ha), and is the most southerly of the four named Roussette de Savoie crus. Frangy lies some 30 miles (50km) to the north, while Monthoux and its neighbor Marestel fall roughly halfway between.
The key characteristic of the Monterminod cru is its steep, south-facing slopes, which have rapid soil drainage and excellent sunshine exposure – a vital bonus in the cool, alpine climate here. The vines' elevated position also keeps them out of the reach of low-lying frosts, and they are sheltered from other adverse weather conditions by the surrounding peaks, which rise to more than 4000ft (1220m) above sea level.
Vines were first planted in Saint-Alban-Leysse by the Abbot of Cluny in the Middle Ages in order to satisfy the thirst of the Benedictine monks that resided in the area. Winegrowing has continued throughout the centuries, and when the Roussette de Savoie AOC was granted in the 1970s, the Monterminod vineyard was considered distinctive enough to warrant its own designation. Roussette de Savoie Monterminod wines and the other three crus are made under more stringent production conditions than basic Roussette de Savoie wines – specifically, lower maximum yield and higher minimum-alcohol levels in the finished wines.
As in all of the Roussette de Savoie crus, the only permitted grape variety is Altesse, which is known locally as Roussette because of the reddish color of the ripened grapes. Altesse is considered by many to be superior to Savoie's other main white grape variety of Jacquere, which is used widely in the Vin de Savoie appellation.