Thursday, 29 January 2015


Valentin Schiess first got into wine 25 years ago, working in a wine cellar in Spain. He subsequently gained winemaking experience in Australia, New Zealand and California, before studying oenology in Dijon. He now has his own winemaking cellar in Gundeldingen or "Gundeli", as the locals like to call one of Basel's grittier neighbourhoods just south of the railway station. What is unusual is that he is situated in the middle of a big Swiss town, while his grapes come from three disparate corners of Switzerland: Walenstadt (canton of St. Gallen) on the eastern shores of Walensee, Salgesch (Valais) in the Rhône valley, and Jenins (Graubünden) in the Rhine valley. Winemaking isn't his main job. During the day, he works as a quality controller for a large German enterprise. Local rag Tageswoche wrote a profile on Herr Schiess last year. This is his white wine.

Valentin Jakob Schiess (Vinigma GmbH), Priora 2013, Switzerland
Made from Humagne Blanche and Petite Arvine. With the corresponding website not yet fully up and running, and without a smartphone to hold over the QR code (I'm still the proud owner of a daftphone), I'm making an educated guess in stating that the grapes were sourced in Valais. *** (Correction, 3 March 2015: the website is now very much up and running! Thank you Valentin Schiess höchst persönlich for pointing this out to me!) *** A very healthy light yellow in appearance. Immediately, a distinctly flinty whiff rises up from the glass, along with smoky notes, pear and some succulent yellow fruit. Smoky minerals on the palate, with brioche-like notes. This is on a par with, and faintly reminiscent of, an excellent Silvaner I tried a few years back. It lingers on the finish. Otherwise, this is clean as a whistle and medium-bodied but, at 13.5 percent alcohol, actually quite a hammer of a table wine in the best sense of the meaning.

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