Owner: Hans-Peter Schmidt. He says he ‘organizes the ecological research for Delinat, a Swiss company selling organic wine. My role is to organize the ecological renewal [of the vineyards] for these winegrowers [using cover crops and biochar]. They are all organic but we are looking for more biodiversity in the wine growing, for more respect of the terroir and a climate neutral agriculture which in turn makes for better terroir wines.’
Peter bought this estate in 2004 ‘as a knd of research domaine. It had some vineyards which had been conventionally farmed,’ he told me, adding that he ‘started as an anthropologist at the University of Hamburg, became a winegrower in my research on the agricultural attitudes of ancient peoples. Quite a curious biography to become a researcher in ecology! I have my own domaine in Switzerland, Domaine Mythopia. And this is a kind of research domaine, very small, it’s only about 5 hectares, 2, maybe 2 1/2 hectares of grapes (70% Pinot Noir,) 3 hectares or so of aromatic herbs, fruit trees and wild, native plants. They are kind of old vines, from the 1950s, on calcareous soils, with loam and schist.’
Estate vineyards: Vine garden, fruit trees, rare birds, butterflies (see above).
Terroir: ‘We are located in the Valais, between the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc in the High Alps,’ Peter told me. ‘We are between two 4,000-metre high mountain chains through which runs the valley which irrigates the Rhône valley. So this area is a micro-climate, very dry, warm; and being in a mountain region means we have a different soil every 100 meters, calcareous, schistous etc. From one micro-climate to the next, a different soil. It is very interesting to make small-batch wines. Sometimes we make a Pinot Noir from only 1,500 square meters, a special wine for that piece of land, then on another patch of 2,000 square meters we make another wine. We mainly have Pinot Noir, but the different soils [the terroir makes] different wines.’ He also showed a Silvaner at RAW 2012.
Biodiversity: ‘Agricultural practices derived, at least in part, from methods used by the Aztecs. Wild flowers, fruit trees, leguminous plants, grains, rare birds, green lizards, and more than 60 species of butterfly,’ (Isabelle Legeron, 2014, p.189). Also bees.
Organic certification: 2008 First vintage with full organic certification.
Winemaking: No added sulfites, no fining, no filtration.
Disobedience, Valais: 2008 Fendant. No added sulfites. 6 weeks on skins. 2 barrels made made. Creamy, some chaptalisation characteristics, cidery (RAW 2012). | 2011 12.5%. | 2012 12% alcohol.
Finito, Valais | 2010 Silvaner. Two barrels. 7g/l residual sugar. No added sulfites. Nice and plump with a bit of fizz (RAW 2012).
Jadis: 2013 Fendant mainly, plus Reze on terraces. 12%.
Illusion: 2012 Pinot Noir.
Primogenitur: 2011 Pinot Noir. No added sufites.
Pinot Noir, Clos sesames Martyrs: Valais. Pinot Noir (massale) planted 1980-81. South-east facing. | 2008 No added sulfites. Picked three weeks later than a this plus serré than the Pi No (RAW 2012).
Terre de Vagabonde: 2009 Pinot Noir. Valais. No added sulfites.
Pi No, Valais: South-facing vines, chalky loam. | 2010 No added sulfites. Plum and reduction, chaptalised taste (RAW 2012).
Rue de l’Ancienne Eglise 9
CH: 1974 Arbaz, Switzerland
Isabelle Legeron MW, Natural Wine, An introduction to organic and biodynamic wines grown naturally (2014, Cico Books, London & New York), p.189.