Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Iconic Swiss Varietals Tasting with Paolo Basso: Jean-René Germanier Vétroz Cayas Syrah du Valais Réserve 2009

In this post I continue the tale of the DWCC14 Iconic Swiss Varietals tasting led by Paolo Basso, the World's Best Sommelier. The wines reported on previously are listed at the bottom of the post. The wine treated herein is the 2009 Jean-René Germanier Vétroz Cayas Syrah du Valais Réserve AOC Valais. This was not the third wine tasted at the event. I have diverged from the tasting order so that the AOC Valais wines can be presented sequentially. As I have done in the previous posts, I will provide background on the region, winery, and wine prior to providing the tasting notes.

The Valois AOC has been described previously. Vétroz is a commune within Valais with vineyards on the lower hillside, below the commune of Conthey, and on the alluvial cone of the Lizeme in Balavaud. The south-facing hillside vineyard covers an area of 144 ha and is sited on black shale (formed from marine sediments deposited between 160 and 170 million years ago) and glacial moraines. The Balavaud portion is 67 ha in size and its soil is comprised primarily of large pebbles.

The primary varieties grown in the commune are:
  • Reds
    • Gamay (21%)
    • Pinot Noir (18%)
    • Syrah
    • Gamaret
  • Whites
    • Fendant (Local name for Chasselas -- 23%)
    • Amigne (16%)
    • Petite Arvine
    • Johanisberg
    • Muscat
    • Malvoisie
Wines with the following characteristics are allowed to refer to themselves on the label as Grand Cru de Vétroz:
  • White varieties: Chasselas or Amigne grown in the 1st zone
  • Red varieties: Pinot Noir or Gamay grown in the 1st or 2nd zones
  • Vine age: > 7 years
  • Vine density: 7000 vines/ha.
Location of Vétroz wineries (Source:www.grands-crus.ch)
Jean-René Germanier was founded in 1896 by Urban Germanier and until the 1940s, wine was the hallmark of the enterprise. The establishment switched its focus to liqueurs in the 1940s but re-oriented to the grape beginning in the 1980s. It is currently helmed by third-generation enologist Jean-René Germanier and his nephew Gilles Besse. The average age of the vines is 35 years and the estate is working towards organic certification. The winery produces a number of classic AOC Valais wines as well as a number of blends and Reserve wines.

The Cayas Syrah du Valais is 100% Syrah made from grapes grown on shale soil in Balavaud, Vétroz, and Chamoson et Fully. The grapes are macerated for 10 days prior to a 20-day alcoholic fermentation. Malolactic fermentation and aging occur in 50% new oak barrels.

Tasting Notes -- On the nose balsamic, vanilla, blackpepper, meat, gaminess. On the palate, round, dusky, sweet sensation. Ripe fruit. Savory mid-palate. Rich, young tannins. Great acidity. Long, intense finish with vanilla and balsamic aftertaste.

Previous Iconic Swiss Varietals Tasting posts
Leyvraz St-Saphorin Grand Cru Les Blassinges 2012
St-Jodern Kellerei Visperterminen Veritas Heida 2012 AOC Valais

©Wine -- Mise en abyme


  1. Excellent winery. Every wine from Jean-Rene Germanier is beautiful, but the Cayus is the king of the cellar. Have you tried Syrah from Simon Maye (St. Pierre des Clages, just west of Vetroz), particularly wines made while he was alive? He brought Rhone Syrah to Valais in the 1950s. Thanks to him and his peers who believed in the varietal, beautiful Syrah comes from both ends of the mighty river.

    Thanks for your articles on Valais wines, one of the under discovered regions of Europe's oenological landscape.

  2. Have not tried the Maye Syrah but, based on your recommendation, wil be on the lookout. Thanks again for the info and the comments

  3. Excellent. Such understanding of context intensifies the joy we have in wine tasting.
    I have quite a similar note on the same wine and was lucky enough to taste both the 2006 and the 2011 Cayas in one of the steep, picturesque Vetroz vineyards of Germanier back in early November during our Sunday trip to Valais.
    The aromas and flavours were even intensified in the 2006 with a slightly rustic mouthfeel and an enticing bouquet reminding me of autumn.
    The 2011 was promising, not yet as layered but definitely embraced the Rhone quality with a caressing texture, accents of spice and meaty undertones.
    I am glad this is one of the few bottles I managed to carry back home to see how it develops over time.

    1. Thanks for the additional insight Umay