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Petite Arvine - Riesling

Petite Arvine - Riesling

Petite Arvine, a white grape, is a long established Valaisan grape variety and is one of the varieties that makes the Valais so very interesting. It is considered by many to be the quintessential Valaisan white wine grape.

When vinified dry, the wine can be very classy with excellent structure, a bouquet including aromas of grapefruit, wisteria, rhubarb and honey, a palate of concentrated fruit balanced with good acidity and sometimes a saline note on the finish.

It ages well and because of these qualities, is very popular and is widely grown in the Valais, where there are today some 115 hectares in various sites along the valley from Sion to Martigny.

The Petite Arvine can be fussy in the vineyard being frost-sensitive and requiring quite a lot of water thus limiting the sites which are suitable. Yields are quite low by Swiss standards, from 0.5 to 0.7 litres per square metre.

Opinion is divided over its origins. It is widely believed to have originated from the region of Martigny, although some think it originates in the Aosta valley in Italy from where it arrived in Valais towards the end of the Middle Ages. Officially, it is of "unknown origin". This of course, applies to its parentage, as recent DNA tests have been unable to reveal anything to identify any close relationships at all.

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Riesling wines can be highly aromatic with apple, peach and pear at the forefront, mixed with delicate floral undertones and often honey and spice on the nose. On the palate, Rieslings echo the apple, pear and peach along with citrus and tropical nuances. Rieslings tend to pick up a noticeable "minerality" from their native soils.

Riesling, through DNA data, appears to be a cross between Gouais Blanc and an unknown relative of Savagnin. Riesling seems to have originated on the north bank of the Rhine in Germany where we find its first mention in a document dated 1435.

Up to the early 20th century Riesling and Sylvaner were often confused with each other. If you buy an ancient bottle you can't be sure which it might be. After the 60s, you're OK.

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