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Johannisberg / Sylvaner - Cave Jean Rene Germanier

Johannisberg / Sylvaner - Cave Jean Rene Germanier

Sylvaner (or Silvaner), known in Switzerland as Johannisberg, is an ancient variety from Eastern Europe, introduced into Valais at the start of the Twentieth Century.

When produced with high yields, Sylvaner can produce a bland and uninteresting wine, hence its lack of popularity for growers outside Europe. When yields are controlled, however, Sylvaner creates a crisp, minerally, flint-scented wine.

Above all, Sylvaner makes a sensational white wine for food. When young, they are also a much enjoyed Aperitif wine. Forget beer, have a Johannis!

Despite originating in Austria, the bulk of the world’s planting of Sylvaner is in Germany. France has over a thousand hectares in Alsace and there are much smaller plantings throughout Europe. Outside Europe, very little Sylvaner exists with tiny amounts in New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

Sylvaner is a natural cross between Savagnin (Traminer) and Österreichisch Weiß, a rare grape from Vienna, and had existed for more than 500 years.

Talking of years, Johannisberg can age magnificently! I have drank one from the 40s and it was fresh, rich, complex.

But should you read old texts about wine, please be aware that before our more rigorous era, Johannisberg was often a name for Riesling, and Riesling a name for Sylvaner...

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  • Johannisberg de Chamoson Cave Jean Rene Germanier

    Best Johannisberg in 2016, a great winter aperitif

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From 1896 onwards when he harvested his first vintage at Balavaud, Urbain Germanier devoted his life to his vineyards. Later, the torch passed to his three sons, Francis, Paul and Charles whose wines claimed their place among the premiers crus, the best growths of the Valais.

Around 1940 Francis Germanier decided to introduce a table pear variety to the plains of the Rhône valley called Williams, or Williams Bon Chrétien after the English nurseryman who discovered it. In 1945 a severe storm threw the entire harvest to the ground. Faced with this disaster Francis decided to distill the fruit. The resultant eau-de-vie proved extraordinarily aromatic and harmonious. The Bon Père William was born and rapidly established itself as one of the typical specialities of the canton, inseparable from the legendary spectacle of the pear in the bottle. The production of spirits became for many years the most important activity of the family domaine until winemaking returned to predominance in the course of the 1980s.

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