Helvetic shooting star
If a winemaker is asked to name the rising star among the Swiss varieties, the answer is usually Heida. The age old white grape probably dates from before Christianization, hence the name (“heiden” is German for pagan, or heathen). In French-speaking Valais, they are known as Païen, in Geneva as Savagnin blanc, and as Traminer in Germany. It has its origins in the French Jura. There, vintners process it into the specialty vin jaune, similar to sherry. What makes these grapes so special? At a time when many whites are becoming increasingly interchangeable, Heide wines are truly characteristic. They smell of citrus and exotic fruits, of green nuts and honey, and often have lightly smoky echoes. And they mature unusually well. With their full body and structure-giving acidity, they can easily withstand 20 years in the cellar. Tip: a mature specimen with Valais raclette can convert ingrained Chasselas-followers on its own.