Friday, March 13, 2015

Iconic Swiss Varietal Tasting with Paolo Basso: Clos de Tsampéhro Tsampéhro Rouge 2011

This is another in a series of posts recounting a Tasting of Iconic Swiss Wines at DWCC2014 with Paolo Basso, the World's Best Sommelier. The wines that have been treated previously are listed at the bottom of this post. This missive covers the tasting of the Clos de Tsampéhro Tsampéhro Rouge Edition I 2011 AOC Valais. But first, a little background.

Clos de Tsampéhro is a newly reconstituted estate located in the town of Lens in the district of Sierre and the wine region of Valais. The 2013 vintage was the first under the new ownership, hence the designation Edition I. The maps below show the AOC Valais and the location of Lens and Flanthey (the name on the label) in what is colloquially referred to as the Middle Valais.

Lens and Flanthey shown in solid ovals
The climate in the Middle Valais is Mediterranean-like with 2500 hours per year of sunshine. The towering mountain slopes to the north of the region provide a rain-shadow effect for the Rhone Valley at this spot, with most of the rain deposited on the slopes on the northern side of the mountain. This keeps the valley rainfall levels to approximately 500 mm/year. Only the dry, hot wind called the Foehn can scale these mountain barriers. Temperatures range between a low of 0.2 degreesC in January and 20 degreesC in July. A significant diurnal temperature variation promotes slow and balanced grape ripening.

A soil survey and analysis was conducted in 2009 and characterized the soil as a limestone scree composed of shales, acidic, and of a sandy-loam texture.

The vineyard extends over three contiguous hectares at 600 m elevation with a length of 320 m amd a width of 115m. Slopes in the middle of the vineyard can range between 35% and 55%. Aspect is primarily south and southwest, providing excellent sun exposure for the fruit. The vines are sited on small terraces to reduce the shade from one line to the next.

Source: tsampé

Source: tsampé
The vineyard is farmed organically and biodynamically but the estate is certified in neither. The existing soil is bolstered with micro-doses of manure, as needed, and organic material from ground pruning material. The dry climate and rapidly draining soils do, on occasion, dictate irrigation which is satisfied by meltwater from surrounding alpine glaciers routed through ancient water channels.

The varieties planted on the estate are as follows:
  • Savagnin Blanc -- 1,250 square meters
  • Chardonnay -- 1000 sq. meters
  • Reza -- 1,250 sq meters
  • The Completer -- 750 sq meters
  • Pinot Black -- 2,500 sq meters
  • Cornalin -- 3,000 sq meters
  • Merlot -- 4,500 sq Meters
  • Cabernet Sauvignon -- 1,600 sq meters
  • Cabernet Franc -- 1,400 sq meters
These vines are planted at a density of 10,000 vines/ha and are green-harvested in July and August to get to 3 to 4 bunches/vine.

The vegetative period of the 2011 vintage in Lens had well-above-normal temperatures (> 4.8 degreesC) which gave way to a long summer with dry conditions which allowed optimal flowering and berry development. It was cooler and wetter after July and a Foehn (strong, hot, dry wind) episode was recorded in late August. Weather conditions were favorable during harvest.

The Tsampéhro Rouge is a blend of Cornalin (40%), Merlot (35%), and Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (25%). The grapes were hand-harvested and then cold-macerated. The must was inoculated with selected yeasts and fermented for 20 - 28 days in solid oak tapered bowls. The wine was then transferred to 10 hl conical oak vats for four months for MLF and development. They were racked to oak barrels for a further 24 months of aging.


A total of 6000 bottles of 750s and 150 magnums of this wine was produced.

Tasting Note -- On the nose, overripe cherries, currants, fresh strawberries, and blackpepper. On the palate a sweet character, pointing to overripeness. Extracted wine with intensity and character. Ripe, extracted tannins. Long, intense aftertaste of spice and licorice.


Previous Iconic Swiss Varietals Tasting posts:

Leyvraz St-Saphorin Grand Cru Les Blassinges 2012
St-Jodern Kellerei Visperterminen Veritas Heida 2012 AOC Valais
Jean-René Germanier Vétroz Cayas Syrah du Valais Réserve 2009

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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