Feb 8th-Petite Arvine

Petite Arvine, which also goes by the name Arvine, is a white grape indigenous to the Valais canton in Switzerland. Just to the south of Valais is northern Italy and the Valle d’Aoste DOC. In order to differentiate Arvine from Grosse Arvine, a grape thought to be a descendent of Arvine, the name Petite Arvine started to be used. The first recorded mentions of Petite Arvine are thought to be from the early 17th century under the name arvena. It is believed the grape arrived in Switzerland by way of the Romans. Today, it is mainly planted in Switzerland. In 2010, the French wine law authorized Arvine to be grown in Northern Rhone. There are also some plantings in Valle d’Aosta. Petite Arvine is not an easy grape to grow. It requires lots of attention and requires a long growing season to fully ripen. When proper care is taken, and the growing environment allows the grape to retain its acidity, Arvine can produce bright, refreshing wines with flavors of tropical fruit, citrus and a hint of salinity. 

This week, I drank a bottle of 2020 Grosjean Petite Arvine from the Valle d’Aoste, DOC. Grosjean has about 1.5 hectares planted with Petite Arvine which yields about 10,000 bottles of wine annually. The grape is planted on steep slopes at an altitude of about 700 meters. As a result of the steeply terraced vineyards, the grapes must be hand harvested and hand tended because machinery is unable to manage the terrain. The altitude allows the grapes to retain the aforementioned acidity because there is sufficient cooling off during the nighttime throughout the growing season. This wine was a pale green lemon color with watery legs. Miniscule bubbles dotted the bottom of the goblet. Aromas of honeydew, white grapefruit, juicy pineapple, orange blossom, and meyer lemons burst from glass. This dry, moderate alcohol, medium bodied wine exhibited gummy bears, wet stone, and a touch of salinity on the palate in addition to flavors from all the previously mentioned aromas. The tiny bubbles also added a gentle tickle. The acid was present but not overwhelming. This wine is said to be capable of extended bottle aging, if someone could keep from opening it for that long. It would pair beautifully with sushi, fish tacos with fruit salsa, or cheese fondue. 


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