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Gwäss (Gouais Blanc) - Cabernet Sauvignon - Viognier

Gwäss (Gouais Blanc) - Cabernet Sauvignon - Viognier

Gwäss, or Gouais Blanc, can easily be called the ancestral Casanova grape. It is one of a few grape varieties that seem to appear in the family or just about every interesting variety out there. And until not that long ago, it'd been lost. And it was rescue, as these things go, by stubborn Swiss mountain winemakers.
We have superb examples of Cabernet Sauvignon from Switzerland, Austria, Italy and some incredible top-end wines from Israel.

Gwäss is indeed a rare grape. In 1994 a mere 1.35 hectares were cultivated commercially in the Valais. Gwäss is the name given in Haut-Valais, Switzerland, for Gouais Blanc, also known as Président in France. Confusingly, it has a second Valasian name – Noir Valais.

Light yellow in colour, it has a lemon scented nose with grapefruit and green apple on the palate with some herbal notes and potentially high levels of acidity. It can age very well and the maturity acts to soften the acidity. Chanton’s 1991 is a particularly good example. Unfortunately, you will have to visit their vineyard to beg a sample!

Gwäss is a white grape variety that is believed to have originated in Croatia and which is important as the ancestor of many modern French and German wine varieties. This may have been the grape given to the Gauls by Probus (Roman Emperor 276-282), who overturned Domitian's decree banning grape growing north of the Alps. By the Middle Ages it was the most widely grown white grape in north east France and in central Europe. Gouais blanc was the grape of the peasantry - indeed the name Gouais derives from the old French ‘gou’, a term of derision befitting its traditional status as the grape of the peasants. Normally growing on flat land next to the better slopes where the nobility grew Pinot.

Having been widely grown in proximity to Pinot, the two varieties had many opportunities to cross and Gwäss is the parent to over eighty other varieties, the better known of which are modern day Chardonnay, Aligoté, Auxerrois, Gamay, Colombard and Riesling. The name Gwäss was first recorded in 1823. It's a vigorous high-yielding variety and traditionally produced wines with high acidity. Some stories tell that the Gwäss vines were planted around the edges of fields with other vines to protect them from thieves, the grapes being so acidic it put them off!

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  • Douce Noire Domaine des Abeilles d'Or

    Silk and cashmere in a glass
  • Viognier Domaine de Maison Blanche

    Mature fresh cold climate Viognier
  • Gwäss Chanton Wein

    The casanova grape
  • Riedenthal Reserve Weingut Breitenfelder

    Seriously good blend

    Out of stock

  • Cuvée XXI Weingut Christ

    Vienna Bordeaux Blend - a bargain!
  • Cabernet Merlot Premium Weingut Christian Fischer

    A magnificent Cabernet Merlot blend from Fischer - grab it while you can.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Franz / Christine Netzl

    Austrian Cabernet, prepare to be deliciously surprised

    Out of stock

  • Cabernet Fût de Chêne 9/9 Cave de Geneve

    Fresh yet intense Cabernet from Geneva.
  • Anna Christina Franz / Christine Netzl

    Always amongst the best reds in Austria.
  • Electus Valais Mundi

    A wine created to raise expectations about Swiss wine to a whole new level.
  • Blaufränkisch Cabernet Günter & Regina Triebaumer

    The way to approach Blaufrankisch
  • Grain Noir Marie-Therese Chappaz

    Cabernet and Merlot in Alpine purity
  • Viognier Grande Réserve Les Romaines Les Freres Dutruy

    Big rich Viognier from the perfect climate of the Geneva region
  • Gradenthal Weingut Christian Fischer

    Out of stock

  • Cabernet Franc Margalit

    Exceptional Cult Cabernet
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Margalit

    Cult Cabernet Sauvignon

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OUR WINES ARE CHOSEN PERSONALLY ONE BY ONE.

  • Each wine will bring something distinctive to your table.
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Viognier can be a difficult grape to grow because it is prone to powdery mildew. It has low and unpredictable yields and should be picked only when fully ripe. When picked too early, the grape fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes. When picked too late, the grape produces wine that is oily and lacks perfume. When fully ripe the grapes have a deep yellow colour and produce wine with a strong perfume and high in alcohol. The grape prefers warmer environments and a long growing season, but can grow in cooler areas as well.

The age of the vine also has an effect on the quality of the wine produced. Viognier vines start to hit their peak after 15–20 years.

The origin of the Viognier grape is unknown; it is presumed to be an ancient grape, possibly originating in Dalmatia (present day Croatia) and then brought to Rhône by the Romans. One legend states that the Roman emperor Probus brought the vine to the region in 281 AD; another has the grape packaged with Syrah on a cargo ship navigating the Rhône river, en route to Beaujolais when it was captured, near the site of present day Condrieu, by a local group of outlaws known as culs de piaux.

The origin of the name Viognier is also obscure. The most common namesake is the French city of Vienne, which was a major Roman outpost. Another legend has it drawing its name from the Roman pronunciation of the via Gehennae, meaning the "Road of the Valley of Hell". Probably this is an allusion to the difficulty of growing the grape.

Viognier was once fairly common. In 1965, the grape was almost extinct when there were only eight acres in Northern Rhône producing just 1,900 litres of wine. The popularity and price of the wine have risen, and the number of plantings has increased. Rhône now has over 740 acres (3.0 km2) planted.

In 2004, DNA profiling conducted at University of California, Davis showed the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin of Nebbiolo. We also know, through DNA analysis, that Viognier is related to Mondeuse Blanche and is therefore closely related to Syrah.

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