Monday, February 9, 2015

Iconic Swiss Varietals tasting with Paolo Basso: St-Jodern Kellerei Visperterminen Veritas Heida 2012 AOC Valais

One of the highlights of the 2014 DWCC Conference was a tasting of Iconic Swiss Varietals with noted sommelier Paolo Basso. I reported on the background of the tasting and the first wine tasted in a prior post and will cover the environment around the second wine and the tasting notes in this post. The second wine tasted was the St-Jodern Kellerei Visperterminen Veritas Heida 2012 from the Valais AOC.

Valais AOC is the largest Swiss wine region, stretching 120 m along the right bank of the Rhone river and encompassing a surface area of 5259 ha. Fully half of the country's wine is produced therein.

The climate is continental with cold winters, hot summers, and an autumn warmth which -- in combination with the Foehn wind -- favors the maturation of late-ripening varieties. The region is one of the driest in Switzerland with annual rainfall averaging 600 mm.

The main portion of the vineyard is situated in the 50-km space between Mantigny and Sierre where elevations range between 450 and 800 m but, in the commune of Visperterminen, elevations can reach up to 1150 m, some of the highest vineyard elevations in Europe. The vineyards are owned by a total of 23,000 landholders and are located on a variety of soil types. The primary varieties in the region are Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Gamay.

Located at the entrance to the Visper Valley, Visperterminen is home to some of the highest vineyards in Europe. The lowest vines are planted at 600 m on the banks of the Vispa from where the vineyard rises steeply -- defined by short terraces with dry stone walls -- to elevations in excess of 100m. The south-facing slopes cover 42 ha of limestone-infused clay and sand soils.

Vineyards of Visperterminen. Source:
Visperterminen is also famous for the Heida variety, a small. low-yielding grape that is also known as Paien in the region and Savagnin blanc and Traminer farther afield (Other synonyms includee Nature and Gelber Traminer). This ancient grape, whose origins lie in the sub-alpine regions of eastern France, is grown own-rooted or grafted in Visperterminen and its wines are sometimes referred to as the "pearl of the Alpine wines."

Now back to the wine. The Heida Veritas is produced by St. Jodern Kellerei, a coop established in 1980 to produce and market the wines of the growers in Visperterminen and Visperta. The coop has 500 members and produces 18 different wines in 400,000 bottles from 300,000 liters of wine.

The grapes for the wine are grown on a 0.4-ha plot on lightweight, dry moraine and slate soils. The 100-year-old, Gobelet-trained vines are planted at 9000 vines/ha and are farmed after an integrated production philosophy.

The grapes are destemmed and macerated for 8 hours prior to fermentation. Fermentation is conducted in concrete eggs using selected yeasts. After fermentation the wine is aged on the lees for 6 to 8 months with lees-stirring. The wines are gently filterd prior to bottling.


Notes: This wine exhibited ripe fruit on the nose with pineapple, lychee, overripe peaches, banana, and dried aporicot being the most notable. Rich and warm in the mouth with a savory palate. Round with a long finish. Elegant.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme


  1. Great post. Love that you're shining a light on the Valais wines. Paien/Heida is an under discovered wine. Mabillard-Fuchs has a beautiful one as does Simon Maye. The Chateau de Villa has several on its wine list. Without a doubt, that is the best way to immerse oneself in the Valais wines since nearly every varietal grown in the valley is represented on that list.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and the additional insight.