Discover the exceptional mosaic of the different grapes cultivated in Switzerland’s most important wine-making region. Known for the elegance of its grands crus, Valais also plays host to the highest vineyard in Europe. Bathed in the sun and blessed by the pure waters of the Alps, this little corner of paradise gives birth to unique wines, making it an unforgettable destination for wine tourists.
Valais grape varieties
Nowhere else does Fendant give such subtle, complex life to a wine than in Switzerland. This precocious, vigorous grape is known as Fendant in Valais – from the French “fendre” meaning to split – as its skin splits under the fingers when ripe. Its understated, crystalline aromatic profile leaves all the room for the floral, fruity or mineral nuances conveyed by its environment. Often slightly sparkling, always bright and cheerful, Fendant is the aperitif wine par excellence.
Petite Arvine is THE Valais white wine par excellence. Considered exclusive to Valais since 1602, it is delicate, sensitive to the wind and a late developer. Petite Arvine requires the best exposures, preferably not too dry. Its wines can take various forms: dry and nervous, with glycine and grapefruit flavours, or even slightly soft, with notes of rhubarb preserve. To taste, all the varieties are characterised by clear vivacity and a slightly savoury touch, the veritable signature of Petite Arvine.
Heida (Païen or Savagnin Blanc)
When we talk about Heida (as it is called in Upper Valais) or Païen, this is the name given in Valais to white wine from the Savagnin grape, also known as Traminer. Initially found on the slopes at Visperterminen up to 1,100 metres above sea level, Heida yields an extraordinary range of citrus and exotic fruits. It brings together tonic vivacity and structure.
Noted in Valais for the first time at the start of the 19th century, Cornalin ripens late, is capricious and hard to work, but it features a fantastic dark cherry colour with violet flashes. It has an usually fruity strength, an insolent youthfulness, and a body that is simultaneously slender, tonic and very fresh. Without doubt, this is the greatest Valais red, with its spicy notes of clove and fruity hints of black cherry. Its energy sapped over the years, it assumes a remarkable patina of great delicacy and nobility.
Having arrived in Valais over the Great St. Bernard Pass, Humagne Rouge is, after Cornalin, the second great red wine with a strong Valais identity. Vigorous and late-maturing, Humagne Rouge produces vintages with a well-tempered character. Its aromatic profile appeals with notes of wild fruits, woodlands, peel and violets. With a supple palate in the attack then strengthening in the finish, this is a wine for aficionados, to be enjoyed young or after three to five years storage.
Pinot Noir is the most widely planted grape in Valais. It was introduced in the middle of the 19th century in order to regenerate the wine industry, which was going through a period of transition. Note that Pinot Noir, an early harvest variety that supports both dryness and cold, was bound to succeed in Valais. It gives birth to very varied wines, reflecting the enormous diversity of the soil. Blended with Gamay, it provides structure, classiness and elegance to Doles.