The Etoiles du Valais wine awards were handed out 4 December in Bern to the wineries judged the best in the canton in 2019, each for a wine that features the canton’s native son grape varieties. Vintages were 2018 except for Syrah, Cornalin and Heidi, which benefit from more time, and these awards were for 2017 wines. The awards are given for “authenticity, tradition and a passion for the work”.
In addition, the Humagne Rouge from Cave Le Bosset was a double winner, handed the Swiss Wine award from Swiss Wine Promotion, whose new award selects one winner from each canton.
Sébastien Olesen, director of the Palp Festival, which has rapidly grown in popularity, was awarded a special prize for the festival’s efforts to promote Valais wines.
The 2019 Etoiles du Valais winning wines
Note that a list of all the wines that won medals at the Valais cantonal selection is provided towards the end of this brochure published by Vins du Valais.
On a personal note, I was pleased to be asked to present and give the Dôle award, especially as it went to a winery whose work is new to me, Cave Sinclair in Loc-sur-Sierre. To the surprise of both of us, it turns out that some of their vines are on the cover of my Swiss wine book, Vineglorious! Switzerland’s Wondrous World of Wines, to the left of the road from Venthône to Loc, shown here.
Fendant Les Corles Chasselas de Sierre 2018
Cave La Danse – Sierre
Cave Les Sentes – Sierre
Remarkably pure and one of my favourites with the meal.
Cave La Romaine – Flanthey
This is a wine I want to try as part of a more powerful food and wine pairing (we had it with a salmon cevisse, cold raw fish) because it is a startlingly aromatic and powerful wine.
Petite Arvine L’Or de la Terre 2018
Frédéric Dumoulin – L’Orpailleur – Uvrier
Dôle (a blend)
Dôle Les Coteaux de Sierre 2018
Cave Sinclair – Loc-sur-Sierre
I sat next to Gilles Berclaz and across from his father at lunch and we agreed that this is a really delightful and pleasing, if intentionally uncomplicated wine – just what a good Dôle should be. With the rise in popularity of Gamay, the once eponymous Dôle is harder to find. This one is 70% Pinot Noir, 20% Gamay, 10% Gamaret. Very special: it’s available in 50 cl bottles, CHF9. Stock up for your next picnic.
Humagne Rouge 2018
Cave Le Bosset – Leytron
I can understand why Nicolas Joss from Swiss Wine says this is one of the wines he likes to take abroad, a fine example of a region, a Swiss grape, Swiss quality. This is simply delicious.
Syrah Crêta-Plan 2017
Domaines Rouvinez – Sierre
Hans Bayard Soleil de Varone – Varen
Valais loves a good party and the Etoiles awards offer just that, every year. Wednesday, the awards were interspersed with show-stopping music by Yves Moulin, an extremely gifted and accomplished accordion player. The Hotel Innere Enge in Bern has been famous for decades for jazz and other music, as well as its decor and location overlooking the Arve River and city centre: a wonderful setting for a pairing session of food and eight wine to celebrate the awards. And to top it off, a trip to Bern’s Christmas markets, with a glass of wine as dark fell: highly recommended!