Chignin is a named cru of the Vin de Savoie appellation in the Alps on the eastern edge of France. Situated on the western side of the Bauges mountains, the village of Chignin for which the appellation is named falls just south of the city of Chambery. Vin de Savoie Chignin can be either a light, dry white wine made predominantly from the Jacquere grape variety, or a peppery, deeply colored red wine made from Mondeuse, Pinot Noir or Gamay.
Chignin is one of the more famous wine villages in the Combe de Savoie, a long valley which stretches around the southern end of the 4000-ft-high (1200m) Roche du Guet mountain ridge. The permitted vineyard zone of the Chignin cru stretches up the southwest-facing slopes of the mountain, overlapping with the slightly larger area of Chignin-Bergeron. It is worth noting that the village of Chignin is best known for its Roussanne-based white wines which are sold under the separate Chignin-Bergeron cru.
The sunny aspect of the vineyards in Chignin helps to temper the effects of Savoie's cool continental climate. Long sunshine hours during the growing season bring the grapes to an optimum ripeness before harvest, ensuring that the grapes are at peak flavor. This ripening happens slowly due to the cool alpine influences from the surrounding mountains, and so acidity is retained, leading to refreshing, well-balanced wines.
The geology of this part of the Alps is dominated by limestone, and the slopes of Chignin are representative of the soils found throughout the Combe de Savoie. Vineyards are planted on rocky scree soils with a clay limestone subsoil, which helps to store heat during the day (aiding ripening) and is sufficiently well drained to dehydrate the vines just enough to concentrate flavors in the grapes. This leads to more intensity of flavor in the finished wines.
Vin de Savoie Chignin white wines are often varietal, but the AOC law states that winemakers may add a small proportion (20%) of a selection of other grape varieties to the blend, including Chardonnay, Aligote and Mondeuse Blanche. The same is true of the cru's red wines, but in smaller proportions again: the final wine may comprise only 10% of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon or the rare Persan – a variety unique to Savoie.