VISIT TO A VALAISANNE VINEYARD, WINE TASTING AND LUNCH

VISIT TO A VALAISANNE VINEYARD, WINE TASTING AND LUNCH
Romandie-East Region

You must visit Chamoson

If, like me, your idea of the Valais is the autoroute to the croquet lawn in Sion, you would have been in for a pleasant surprise if you had signed up to Deborah’s 2 September visit to a Valaisanne wine producer in Chamoson.  Chamoson? It is so off the beaten track that our GPS was telling us to “turn right” and “turn left” at the same time. However, after a nice drive up the hill we reached this delightful village on the edge of the northern slopes (very important for the wine) before Sion. Of course, we were last to arrive because the dozen or so happy folk sitting round the table in the café were all used to “The Valais Off The Autoroute“. After some mandatory BRA coffee imbibing, our host took us for a walk around the vineyards, explaining the character of the different grapes, the different ways that they were grown and the fact that they were all hand-picked. His offer to take us to the highest line of his grapes was politely but unanimously declined.  

Let me explain why our host was such a good, stereotypical Swiss wine producer. First and foremost, Jamie McCulloch is Scottish with an engineering degree from Glasgow University, so I found him easy to understand. Possibly as important, he fell in love with grapes and wine in Switzerland. As an enthusiast new to the business, he then did his oenology degree in swiss german and settled in the Valais where they speak french.

When we had worked up sufficient appetite, we went back to Jamie’s wine-cellar and it was a real cellar, deep underground. Although some had concerns about getting back up the stairs after a sampling event, we soon immersed ourselves in the serious business of partaking of a wine-tasting and lunch. This provided an excellent relaxed opportunity to sample and appreciate some very different wine varieties and to introduce us to some of the Valais’ specialities. Jamie’s creativity in designing 14 different wines was an eye-opener for me. (I understood it for whiskies but for wines it was something that I had never really considered before.) He was a mine of information, fielding questions into the technicalities of growing, making and selling wine. He even told us about the wine he produces for a local abbey and how it introduces a different spirit to the monks’ devotions.

Not only does this part of the Valais produce superb wines, it is also known for its food. Deborah had arranged a multi-course meal from “Les Delices” of Leytron. This provided an excellent companion to the flavours of each wine tasted while showing a reason for visiting their tearoom and sampling their patisserie.

This visit opened up places unknown and gave us an insight into the details of a world where we really just know the end product. Jamie deserves thanks for imparting his knowledge and for hosting an excellent visit, enjoyed by a large group that was very cheerful by the end of our time there. Deborah is due many thanks for organising this excellent visit and arranging for the rain to hold off until we had finished.

Now all I need are a few nights at home when I do not have to drive, allowing me the chance to  savour the contents of those boxes now in my cellar. Roll on Christmas.

Graham Robertson