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Petite Arvine

Petite Arvine

Drink with Fondue: crisp and clear white wine

In Switzerland we traditionally drink crisp white Chasselas, black tea (no milk), and kirsch with cheese fondue. It needs to be dry and very clean to cut through the cheese.

For variety, we might go for Doral, Heida, or Johannisberg, but much complexity can be lost with all the cheese. I still feel Chasselas is the best as much of its complexity is in the mouthfeel not the nose.

In Savoie they drink Jacquere for the same reason, as well as Altesse.

For people accustomed to more acidity in their white wine, Chasselas can feel "not enough" with Fondue. The Savoie wines will work better for you, or some of the Aosta or Alto Adige wines.

Petite Arvine, a white grape, is a long established Valaisan grape variety and is one of the varieties that makes the Valais so very interesting. It is considered by many to be the quintessential Valaisan white wine grape.

When vinified dry, the wine can be very classy with excellent structure, a bouquet including aromas of grapefruit, wisteria, rhubarb and honey, a palate of concentrated fruit balanced with good acidity and sometimes a saline note on the finish.

It ages well and because of these qualities, is very popular and is widely grown in the Valais, where there are today some 115 hectares in various sites along the valley from Sion to Martigny.

The Petite Arvine can be fussy in the vineyard being frost-sensitive and requiring quite a lot of water thus limiting the sites which are suitable. Yields are quite low by Swiss standards, from 0.5 to 0.7 litres per square metre.

Opinion is divided over its origins. It is widely believed to have originated from the region of Martigny, although some think it originates in the Aosta valley in Italy from where it arrived in Valais towards the end of the Middle Ages. Officially, it is of "unknown origin". This of course, applies to its parentage, as recent DNA tests have been unable to reveal anything to identify any close relationships at all.

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