- Isère, Savoie, France
Squeezed between the Savoie and the Rhône valley is Isère, a dramatic landscape of steep, narrow river valleys and forested slopes. Grape growing in Isère dates back to Roman times, and 33,000 hectares of vines were recorded as planted here in the 19th century. But that was before phylloxera struck. Since many of the best vineyard sites in Isère were remote and difficult to farm due to the cool climate, steep slopes, and poor, rocky soils, they were largely abandoned, and many of Isère’s indigenous varieties nearly went extinct. However, over the last ten years, there has been a revitalization of Isère’s viticultural heritage, and one of its leading voices is Jérémy Bricka.
After studying enology, Jérémy Bricka worked at Guigal for eight years, managing their St. Joseph and Hermitage vineyards. With a lifelong passion for the mountains and looking for a change of scene, Jérémy moved to Trieves in the Rhône-Alpes in 2011 and co-founded the first French whisky distillery, Des Hautes Glaces. Jérémy fell in love with the region, but his success with whisky was mixed, so he decided to return to his original passion: vines and wine. He purchased five hectares in Isère in 2015, an IGP on the eastern border of France above the Rhône river and below Savoie. He chose this site due to its steep slopes of black shale soils. Here he sensed the potential for the region’s indigenous varieties, so he planted Verdesse, Mondeuse Blanche and Noir, Altesse, Persan, Etraire de l’Aduï, and Douce Noire. At an elevation of 500-700 meters above sea level, this site is quite cool, which keeps disease risk low, and his farming is certified organic. In the cellar, Jérémy favors a gentle approach, using neutral vessels and minimal sulfur to ensure the vibrancy of the variety and terroir translate into the glass.