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Garanoir - Traminer / Heida

Garanoir - Traminer / Heida

Garanoir is a new hybrid grape, a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner, a white variety found in Germany (and in the UK). It produces immensely powerful dark red wines, with much tannin and is increasingly used in "big" blends.

Garanoir has very smooth tannins, low acidity, has a deep colour, generous fruit perfectly enhanced by a touch of spice, and an incredible complex texture. It is used in blends to bring texture and a certain complex richness to the wine. The variety is often blended with its sibling, Gamaret. Aromatically speaking, Garanoir wines can be strikingly similar to those made from Pinot Noir. Garanoir lacks Pinot Noir's acidity however, so it is best grown in cooler vineyard sites. In cooler conditions, the grapes can ripen slowly and steadily without losing too much acidity.

Garanoir was born in 1970 at the Caudoz research centre in Pully near Lausanne in Switzerland and originally named Pully B-28. It then underwent a few name changes before Garanoir was chosen. It was released in 1990.

Garanoir was developed for cultivation in German Switzerland and is a full sibling of Gamaret, which was intended for the French part of the country. They are fantastic as a blend.

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Origins and Connections

The origins of this grape are not without debate. It most likely began in north east France and south west Germany, though some believe that it is from Egypt and others, with no botanical proof, say that it is not from Vitis Vinifera but from Vitis Aminea or even other strains of Vitis.

Heida is the parent or grandparent of an impressive line-up of offspring, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Silvaner, Neuburger, Grüner Veltliner, Verdelho and Traminette, among many others. It is related to Pinot but the parent/offspring relationship cannot be defined.

In Switzerland

In Switzerland it is grown only in the Valais, principally in the vineyards around Visperterminen at an altitude of some 1100 metres above sea level, where the Föhn, a warm southerly wine, helps ripen the grapes. This is a truly old variety. The first written records date from 1586 when it was referred to as "Heyda", but it has been in use much longer. Indeed, the name Heida itself is local patois for "ancient" or "from an earlier time" and the French name "Païen" descends from "Pagan", i.e. before Christianity.

Plantings today are still limited with just some 15 hectares in commercial production. In the vineyard, Heida's grapes are small and compact and are yellowish and aromatic. It ripens mid-season, later than Chasselas, but before Petite Arvine. Heida makes, in my view, some of the best Valaisan white wines which can be complex and powerful, with exotic fruit flavours including quince. Heida ages quite well and should last 5 years without problems. They can also be versatile when food matching, going well with many vegetable dishes, cold meats and fish.

In Austria

Most Traminer in Austria is either Roter Traminer or Gewurtztraminer. There is, however, a rare grape called Gelber Traminer. Do not expect to find any Traminer on our website. Have a look at the details for each wine and see what it really is!

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