If you could bottle intense sunshine, fragrant blossoms and cool Alpine air, you\u2019d likely end up with Altesse. This white grape hails from Savoie, an Alpine region in Southeastern France that\u2019s close to Italy and Switzerland.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn my opinion, [Altesse is] one of the most aromatic, expressive and underappreciated grape varietals in the world,\u201d says Oscar Chinchilla, beverage director/sommelier at Montage Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. \u201cThis is a varietal that makes a fresh expression of white complex wines [that are] food-friendly and a great conversation starter.\u201d\r\n\r\nAltesse is perfect for white wine lovers who believe they must sacrifice weight and depth for vibrant acidity. It\u2019s a rare wine that can tick off all of the boxes.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat is Altesse?\r\nThere\u2019s debate about Altesse\u2019s history. Some thought it was brought to France from Cyprus, while others mistakenly believed it was a relative of the Hungarian grape Furmint. However, recent research has shown Altesse to have a close genetic link to Chasselas, a white grape grown in the similar terroir of Switzerland, though Altesse itself is indigenous to Savoie.\r\n\r\nTo add to the confusion, Altesse can also be bottled as \u201cRoussette de Savoie\u201d or \u201cRoussette de Bugey,\u201d a reference to the reddish or rousse hue that the grape takes on as it ripens and the regions it\u2019s from. It\u2019s also used in the Seyssel Appellation d\u2019Origine Contr\u00f4l\u00e9e (AOC), where it is sometimes blended with Chasselas and the somewhat neutral variety Molette in sparkling wines.\r\n\r\nNo matter what Altesse is called, its limited production used to mean just locals, wine experts and seasonal tourists who sip it apr\u00e8s-ski were familiar with the grape. But that\u2019s changing.\r\n\r\n\u201cOver the last 30 years, the area has shown significant growth in vineyards, thus [there has been] more support to import overseas,\u201d says Jonathan Sanders, sommelier for Justine and La Petite Grocery in New Orleans.\r\n\r\nSanders says that Savoyards consider Altesse to be the region\u2019s most serious white varietal because of its age-worthiness and the fascinating ways in which it can evolve.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn its youth, the grape yields high acid, citrusy wines with a slight almond skin on the finish,\u201d says Rachael Lowe, the beverage director for Levy Restaurants, which includes the James Beard-nominated Spiagga. \u201cAs it ages, it develops a rounder, more viscous mouthfeel with more tropical aromas such as mango, papaya and often an apricot preserve tone, while still maintaining bright acidity.\u201d\r\n\r\nLowe compares the flavor profile to a youthful yet crisper Rh\u00f4ne blend of Marsanne or Roussanne.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nJohn Slover, beverage director for New York City-based hospitality group Major Food Group, says that Altesse is similar to Chasselas or Muscadet, minus the salinity.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen you [smell] it, you can almost picture yourself taking a deep breath at the foot of the Alps surrounded by evergreens,\u201d says Slover. \u201c[There\u2019s] distinct minerality, an underpinning of delicate sage or distinct pine with almond on the palate in its youth, which can age gracefully into a honeyed yet dry complexity.\u201d\r\n\r\nThis is represented by bottles like the 2017 Domaine Eug\u00e8ne Carrel Roussette de Savoie Altesse, which \u201cemphasizes ethereal mountain air-like minerality and Muscadet-like body,\u201d says Slover. The 2009 Domaine Patrick Charlin Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse demonstrates its aging potential, a wine \u201cremaining dry but evolving into pleasurable honey-like complexity similar to a Chenin Blanc.\u201d And Slover calls the 2017 Domaine des Ardoisi\u00e8res Quartz a more modern style \u201cwhile never losing sight of its Alpine underpinnings.\u201d\r\n\r\nMinerality is a hallmark of Altesse. Sanders says that high elevation and strong midday sun lend purity and balance. \u201cThe wine feels like it was forged out of a mountain,\u201d he says. \u201cThese wines are not big and showy, but elegant and light without diminishing complexity, [and] flash pure minerality that is forward, but not aggressive.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAltesse can balance mouthwatering acidity with aromas and flavors that span from fruit to flowers alongside a lush mouthfeel. This makes it a fun wine to pair with food.\r\n\r\nChinchilla recommends serving Altesse alongside caprese salad, pan-seared Parmesan asparagus and garlic-driven dishes. Slover likes youthful bottles with fresh cheeses, salads and savory herbs like tarragon. Older, richer bottles match the richness and intensity of tartiflette, a traditional Savoy dish of roasted potatoes, white wine, fresh herbs and Reblochon cheese.\r\n\r\nLowe turns to seafood and shellfish for young fresh bottlings, and squash, sweet potatoes, pasta and lighter meats for those with a little age on them. The wine\u2019s notes of salt, lemon and stone work with grilled pompano or octopus with citrus and herbs, says Sanders.\r\n\r\nAltesse may be unheralded for now, but it\u2019s a safe bet it won\u2019t stay that way.