'The whole area is under big pressure; people want houses and not vines. Ironically they want to live here because of the landscape. But then they go and destroy it, making it a little less beautiful.'
The story of Domaine Apffel starts in 2013 when Mathieu started to experiment on the ‘Apremont’ parcel alongside our Kiffe veteran and fellow Savoie grower, Mathieu Goury, of Domaine Chevillard. After a few years, the two decided to pursue their individual projects, and so in 2017, Mathieu received the chance to take over a cellar and land from a retiring grower, and hence marked his official journey as a solo endeavour.
In 2020 Mathieu was joined by his partner and now wife Camille to jointly run the estate. The Apffels today own land in three distinct Crus of the ‘Combe de Savoie’. There are 3 hectares of ‘Apremont’ surrounding their cellar in Saint- Baldoph, ‘St Alban’ located on the opposite side of the valley, close to the well known vineyards of ‘Chignin’, as well as a small 0.6 hectare parcel on the well known ‘St Jean de la Porte’, a good 20 minute drive up the valley, where well known estates such as Domaine de Ardoisieres and Domaine Chevillard are based.
When we visited Mathieu and Camille back in summer 2021, you instantly feel their calm and deep connection to the land that they have farmed over the past few years. Despite having had the challenge of taking over vineyards that previously have been worked conventionally, it is evident how their efforts since then have positively impacted the health of the vines, and subsequently, the quality of the fruit they work with. The dominating terroir in their Jacquère vineyards around the cellar consists of a mixture of sandy clay, clay and sedimentary soils on top, usually with a heavy foundation of marl below. This, Mathieu explains, helps their vines to build up a good resistance to drought, as the soils are able to retain water and nutrition well throughout the hot summer periods. In the cellar, they use a mix of small French oak, as well as stainless steel tanks, fibreglass tanks and amphora for experimentation. For them, using the various vessels allows for the right balance of reduction and acidity which they are looking for in their wines. When it comes to pressing and maceration they are following a ‘infusion over extraction’ sentiment, preferring a slow and gentle way of gaining structure and tannin.