Ampelography is the study of grape varieties and nowhere in France do they get more interesting than in one of my specialist areas – the Savoie. Last week I attended the first general meeting for a new centre for Alpine Ampelography – Le Centre d’Ampélographie Alpine Pierre Galet. The centre is at Cevins where Michel Grisard created the Domaine de l’Ardoisière, on a steep slope off the road from Albertville to the famous ski areas of the Tarentaise. It aims to preserve and protect alpine varieties through a number of ways including planting a conservatory vineyard.
The centre is named after the retired Professor Pierre Galet, arguably the most eminent of modern ampelographers, because he has chosen to donate all his archive of research documents to the centre, a great privilege. Aged 86, he spoke at the meeting and stayed the course after the meeting when some unusual wines were tasted. He regaled everyone who would listen to fascinating stories about his long life and work in such a specialised area.
Before the meeting, I took over his last book, published in 2000, an encyclopaedia of grape varieties in French, to be autographed and introduced myself to him. “Ah”, he said, “I’m half English and in the 1950s I went to England to advise on which grapes to plant for the first modern commercial vineyard in England”. After further chat, I asked him if he still enjoyed drinking wine. “Yes, at every meal, which means in a year I drink 365 bottles, 366 in leap years”.
Don’t forget you can buy Gift Subscriptions to Wine Travel Guides with the discount code D1BLG07 – see posting last month!