Arvinis in Montreux, Wednesday evening: I visited Cave Rodaline’s stand to do a comparative tasting of their three terroir Petite Arvine wines, which I’ve wanted to do since my Combe d’Enfer hike in March among their vines, above Fully in Valais. This is a great way to understand how a producer can make different Petite Arvines that reflect different terroirs, the age of the vines, the type of vines and different approaches in the vineyard and cellar.
The one you like best – all three are excellent – is a matter of taste. Pale gold in colour, they share the typicity of Arvine in terms of rhubarb and grapefruit in the nose and a slightly salty touch to the finish. And yet they are quite different. Note, these are the winery prices and I was tasting the newly bottled 2017.
Soil in Leytron has a limestone base and this Arvine shows the softer touch it gives this grape’s wine. The nose is as floral as it is fruity (white flowers, pear) and the mouth has a classy and cleansing slightly bitter finish. For me, this was number 3 in order of preference.
La Murgère Petite Arvine from Fully, CHF26.50 (also available in half bottles)
Easily my favourite, but I like wines with real character, and this is a fine example of that. You know you are in the Alps here, with a strikingly mineral nose that you find again in mouth, a thread of saltiness that runs throughout, from your first sip to the lingering finish. The soil counts for much: the wine comes from two very similar vine parcels on dejection cones of sandy loamy soil, with the granite bedrock for which Fully is famous. The parcels are pebbly, surrounded by loose, accumulated rock, the source of the name of this bottle.
Another factor is that the wine is made from old vines. It is not so much the age of the vines as that these were planted by Claudine’s father, a nursery man, before the 1980s when new varieties of Petite Arvine became more popular. There is a very straight and narrow line, really a classic, with this wine.
Nose: rhubarb with hints of wisteria flowers. A mouth that is complex, powerful and classy.
Les Claives Petite Arvine from Fully, CHF29.50
A beauty, my second favourite, and for anyone who has doubts that organic wines are as good as others, you’ll be convinced by this biodynamic Petite Arvine. Lively, acidic, mineral (again, the granite from Fully leaves its mark), clear notes of rhubarb and exotic fruits. A finish that is very elegant and lingers with gentle precision. Les Claives is an area in Fully with full southern exposure and terraced vineyards, the traditional area for growing Arvine in this village. More on the winery’s production areas.
Claudine is the daughter of a nursery man, sister of a cantonal oenologist, and she has worked around vines all her life.
We chatted about her vines and by extension her Alpine fruit and vegetable garden. I picked up some tips for growing basil in my garden.
Yves Roduit, for his part, is a very knowledgeable amateur geologist. On my to do list: join them for one of their mountain hikes with good food and wine as part of the day, generally done in small groups of 5 to 12 people.
Contact information is on their home page.