Marie-Thérèse Chappaz is not only the most famous woman winegrower in Switzerland she is also a very endearing, simple and genuine woman. Now a star in her own country and the must have swiss winemaker in France but practically unknown elsewhere.
Marie-Thérèse grows 14 hectares of vineyard at an altitude of between 400 and 800 metres, which are divided and spread over several villages - Fully and also Martigny, Charrat, Leytron, Saillon and Chamoson.
The majority of vineyards are cultivated in terraces supported by hand-built dry stone walls according to the centuries old tradition in the Valais. You can wander freely through the spectacular landscapes by taking the beaten pathways that join the different villages.
Since 1999 Marie-Thérèse Chappaz has opted for biodynamic agriculture. To say she was misunderstood at first is putting it mildly. But in between the wines have spoken, as have the wineyards, and those who looked down on the "little woman, what could she know" have learned otherwise.
“For me producing wines is not about making the best drink possible, by any means possible. Wine is something magical when it tells the story of a land, a terrain, a climate, a grape variety, in other words when it has an identity!”
I've been buying them for myself for years but not able to snatch enough quantity for Alpine Wines. But now, we have!
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 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.
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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