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Traminer / Heida - Frühroter Veltliner

Traminer / Heida - Frühroter Veltliner

Frühroter Veltliner is a fruity, powerful wine with a bit of spice and hints of almonds when made into Eiswein, for which it is mostly used as the popularity of dry Frühroter Veltliner has waned in recent years, though still available. Golden straw color. Peach custard, melon and cashew nougat aromas follow through on a round, silky entry to a dryish light-to-medium body with crisp orange note. Finishes with a slightly grassy mineral accented fade. A nice even and balanced apéritif. The early drinking, gently acidic wines are low in alcohol and present a bouquet that is mainly herbaceous with whiffs of flowers and bitter almonds. The varietal Frühroter Veltliner most probably originated in Gumpoldskirchen, Austria. It ripens early and is therefore, in contrast to Zierfandler (late red), called fruehrot (early red). Frühroter Veltliner is a natural cross between Roter Veltliner and Sylvaner and is related to Neuberger, from the same cross, Zierfandler and Savagnin and is used as a parent in a number of crossings. It is not, despite the similar nomenclature, related to Grüner Veltliner.

Savagnin /Heida / Traminer / Païen - this is a grape variety you find all over the Alpine regions and further afield.

For me it is one of the great white wine varieties, up there with Chardonnay and Riesling, producing great wines on several continents and able to go from sparkling to dessert with great ageing potential.

If you haven't tried the Swiss and Austrian versions, you owe it to yourself to try. Valais Heida in particular is typical - an incredibly impressive expression of the grape which has won gold medals.

The more exhuberant Gewürztraminer is a closely related grape - for more information, please go to that page.

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Origins and Connections

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

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.

In Austria

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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