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Petite Arvine - St Laurent - Barrel (old)

Petite Arvine - St Laurent - Barrel (old)

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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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.

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