jamie goode's wine blog

Friday, September 18, 2009

Humagne Rouge and Blanche

Some more Swiss wines, from Provins Valais, selected by Swiss journalist Chandra Kurt. In Switzerland these retail for around ChF20.

They're from two grape varieties that share a name, but no genetic relationship. Humagne Blanche is an indigenous variety, while Humagne Rouge is thought to come from Italy’s Val d’Aosta. Both are from the Valais, which is Switzerland’s largest wine Canton (see www.lesvinsduvalais.ch/en/).

Provins Valais Humagne Blanche ‘Collection Chandra Kurt’ 2006 Valias, Switzerland
12.5% alcohol. This is a beautifully balanced rich white wine, with lovely bright floral minerally aromas as well as some rich grapey notes. The palate has lovely texture with some white peach and melon fruit backed up by spicy notes and a mineralic finish. Rich yet fresh, this reminds me of top Alsace Pinot Gris, but perhaps with more delicacy and balance. It’s rich and bold, yet it’s only 12.5% alcohol. Lovely. 90/100

Provins Valais Humagne Rouge ‘Collection Chandra Kurt’ 2006 Valias, Switzerland
13% alcohol. Quite deep cherry colour. There’s a hint of undergrowth to the ripe, cherry-fruited nose, which has an attractive sappy greenness. The palate has some earthy, spicy complexity, but the dominant theme is fresh dark cherries with a lovely elegance . It’s ripe and sweet, yet supple and balanced at the same time. It reminds me of an Austrian St Laurent in terms of personality. Quite Pinot Noir like, with elegant cherry and berry fruit. 89/100


Saturday, August 15, 2009

A wonderful Swiss white

Humagne Rouge, Humagne Blanche, Heida, Petit Arvine, Cornalin, Amigne, Lafenetscha and Resi. These are all wonderful old Swiss grape varieties from the canton of Valais, and the chances are you've never heard of them, let alone tasted them. In conjunction with Swiss wine writer Chandra Kurt (who I've spent time with in Portugal, Austria and London), Provins Valais are releasing a series of wines based on these varieties.

They're titled 'Collection Chandra Kurt', and this Heida is my first look at them. It's a brilliant wine, and Chandra should be pleased to be associated with this. I've tasted a reasonable number of Swiss wines before (see here), and I like them a good deal. I'd really like to try the Cornalin and Humagne Rouge from this series.

Provins Valais Heida Collection Chandra Kurt 2008 Valais, Switzerland
The Heida grape variety is also known as Savagnin or Paien, and it's one of the mountain varieties. Here, at 1150 m it has still attained a heady alcohol level of 14%. This is a beautiful wine. The nose is fresh and minerally, with apricot, nectarine and melon fruit adding richness. The palate is fresh yet beautifully textured, with a smoky, minerally edge to the pure, crisp yet generous fruit. It's full flavoured and focused with potential for further development. Very pure. 91/100


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Swiss wines

I promised an update on Swiss wines, so here it is—a taster, before my full report is written up. In short, I was very impressed by most of the wines I tasted on my trip. The organization hosting the tastes and cellar visits was a consortium of the 25 leading producers, including members from the French, Italian and German influenced bits of Switzerland. Chasselas, a Swiss white grape, does pretty well and is a point-of-difference for the Swiss wine industry. It tends to fatness and low acidity, though – I think its lovely melony fruit is best off not going through full malolactic in most cases, to preserve as much acidity as possible. Top tips: Bovard and Domaine de la Colombe. Petite Arvine is another local grape that does pretty well and makes some interesting wines (it’s a component in the lovely white made by Lichten). Bovard’s Buxus Sauvignon Blanc is a brilliant wine, showing that it’s not just local varieties that can do well here; Cruchon’s Pinot Blanc is also excellent.

But Switzerland isn’t just about white wines: it also makes some stonking reds. Syrah was the big surprise: we tasted some fantastic examples, bursting with fresh, vibrant red fruits. Look out for Chamoson in particular, and also Coyas. Cornalin is a wonderful Swiss red variety that very nearly became extinct a few years back, but is now making some lovely, fresh, vivid wines – look out for the example from Château Lichten, but all the Cornalins I tried were good. Merlot is a strong performer: Domaine du Crochet 2003 from Hammel was probably the best red I tried over the two days. Some of the Ticino (region in Italian part) Merlots were impressive, also, although there was a tendency to use a touch too much oak. Hammels’ reds show that Bordeaux blends have a real future in Switzerland. Then there’s not forgetting Pinot Noir, which does particularly well in the German end of Switzerland. Kesselring makes three lovely examples. We also tasted some brilliant Pinots in barrel from Cruchon. This is just for starters. Lots more good wines to talk about. And some stunning vineyards (the picture shows some views of Dezaley, on Lac Leman).


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Helicopter ride in Switzerland

Just back from two great days in Switzerland, tasting wines from 25 of the country's leading producers. As well as the surprisingly (and uniformly) high quality of the wines, the highlight of the trip was a helicopter flight over some of the spectacular vineyards of the Chablais region, followed by a hair-raising but spectacularly beautiful buzz over the top of the alps. The picture here is me, taken by fellow passenger Sam Harrop. For one of the aerial views of the vineyard, see the photo of the week. I'll be blogging more about our Swiss experiences in the following days.

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