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Amigne - Cornalin

Amigne - Cornalin

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Cornalin is a traditional Swiss red grape variety grown in Valais. It is one of the rare varieties shared between Aosta and Valais. It gives fruity red wine with an elegant nose but a more robust, even rustic body, and often surprising (for those not used to Alpine reds) herbal notes.

Amigne is grown around the village of Vétroz in Valais, Switzerland, and pretty much nowhere else on the planet. Very rare, very versatile, very delicious!

There are only 18 authorised growers in the area. For this reason it is often referred to as Amigne de Vétroz. The name ‘Amigne’ is derived from the Latin ‘amoenus’ meaning enjoyable or delicious.

From the Romans onwards there has been much debate as to the origin of the grape. Nevertheless, it is grown on terraced vineyards made up of glacial moraine and black schist which help provide Amigne with its unique character.

The wine made from Amigne ranges from bone dry to syrupy sweet, including Amigne flétrie made from grapes left to shrivel and concentrate on the vine.

When it comes to residual sugar, there is a system introduced in 2005, not unlike the putonya system for Tokaj wines. For Amigne they use Bees (Abeilles) which indicate three levels of sweetness with three Bees being the sweetest.

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The grape formerly known as Rouge du Pays.

Rouge du Pays is almost certainly from the Val d'Aosta in Italy as its parents are Petite Rouge and Mayolet. However, Rouge du Pays has only ever been found in Valais in Switzerland, where it has been grown for centuries.

It is a rather capricious grape and alternates between heavy and light yields, so it requires a lot of work in the vineyard. Starting in the late nineteenth century it was slowly replaced by Pinot Noir and Gamay and was almost extinct by the early 1970's. This is when the variety was revived and renamed Cornalin, taking the name of a variety thought to be extinct. Ironically the original Cornalin was alive and well in Valais under the name Humagne Rouge but that wasn't known until decades later from DNA testing.

With DNA testing, we now know that Rouge du Pays is one of the parents of Humagne Rouge. We also found out that Humagne Rouge is, actually, the lost variety which was called Cornalin. So yes, Cornalin is the father of Cornalin.

You may see people using "Cornalin d'Aoste" and "Cornalin du Valais" to make the distinction between the two uses of Cornalin, but if you know which country the wine is from there really isn't any confusion. Cornalin from Switzerland is this variety here, the grape formerly known as Rouge du Pays. Cornalin from Italy will be its child, the grape known in Switzerland as Humagne Rouge.

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