The Eyholzer Roter grape, also known as Hibou, is grown around Visp and in the village of Eyholz just to the west of Visp. It is extraordinarily rare with only 0.25 hectares left worldwide of which the only commercially available wine comes from the vineyards of Josef-Marie Chanton. This ancient variety has in the past, also been grown in Savoie in France and in northern Italy. The traditional method of growing the grape in Valais is to train it on pergolas. This wine is a medium red with a nose of mountain violets and raspberries. Soft and fruity on the palate, it is best served slightly chilled, as one would a young Beaujolais.
DNA testing has been unable to identify the parents of Eyholzer Roter.
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.