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Lafnetscha - St Laurent

Lafnetscha - St Laurent

This is a very rare grape indeed and is only found in Haut-Valais in Switzerland. As you might expect from rare Swiss varieties, the best examples are produced by Kellerei Chanton in the Visp valley where so many rare varieties are lovingly kept from extinction.

People often ask what is the best time to drink certain wine. Here, the clue is in the name of the grape. Named from the Valasian German dialect it translates more or less to “Do not drink too early”. This refers to the high natural acidity and the need to age the wine for better results.

Chanton's Lafnetscha has a light but complex nose of pine forest, linden blossom, bergamot and ripe bananas. On the palate, it is quite full-bodied, dry with good concentration of fruit and a fresh lively acidity. It is a very refreshing wine which would go well with sauerkraut, pot-au-feu, hors d'oeuvres, shrimp, shellfish, cheese and onion cakes, Raclette, and Fondue.

Lafnetscha is the child of another indigenous Swiss white grape the Completer, or Blanchier, grown in the Bündner Herrschaft village of Malans in eastern Switzerland. In Valais only about 1.29 hectares of Lafnetscha is cultivated and Kuonen have 1 hectare of this (80% of world production) in a small vineyard near the town of Brig.

The name Lafnetscha, "Laff-nit-scha", comes from a local dialect phrase suggesting that this wine should not be drunk too young. Lafnetscha wines do indeed have some aging potential if they are correctly made.

These ancient variety white wines improve with age so we recommend buying the oldest vintage available, especially if the wine is for a tasting.

The other parent of Lafnetscha is Humagne from the south of Switzerland.

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  • St. Laurent Classic Weingut Christian Fischer

    Our reference for St Laurent
  • Grosse Reserve Rot Spaetrshuberot-Gebeshuber

  • Lafnetscha Chanton Wein

    If you like to try rare grapes, here is one of the rarest!
  • Point Cuvée Weingut Nigl

  • Perle, Rosé Sekt Franz / Christine Netzl

    A mighty sparkling rosé made from St. Laurent.

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With its somewhat low yield, the variety is considered difficult in the vineyard and was not always appreciated. It needs good sites with deep soils. It is sensitive during the flowering period and sensitive to late frost. It brings inconsistent yields.

Like many other grape varieties, the facts behind its origins are not easily confirmed. One theory suggests that cuttings were offered by a grape collector called Saint-Laurent du Var while another that it comes from Alsace, where it was known as Schwarzer. Although it shares its name with a number of French villages, there is nothing to suggest that they had anything to do with the naming of this grape. Most likely is the idea mentioned above that it was named after the patron saint of chefs, whose patronal festival coincides with the traditional day on which the berries change colour. It is one of the first grapes planted at the monastery of Klosterneuburg in their experimental vineyard in 1863.

If you are a fan of Zweigelt, remember that in 1922 Fritz Zweigelt combined the Sankt Laurent grape with Blaüfrankisch to create Zweigelt. It is a very good parent indeed.

It is not however closely related to Pinot. Sankt Laurent is not the same as Pinot Saint-Laurent. Although Sankt Laurent is not Pinot Noir, any more than Carménère is Merlot, there are some similarities to be found. If you like a meatier, gamier Pinot Noir, try this – you will not be disappointed!

ophisticated wine with a lingering finish that continues to delight for ages. It pairs well with most food, especially meats and as many commentators advise, those foods which you shouldn’t really eat like barbeques, cheese and anything fatty.

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