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Petite Arvine grapes

by | Nov 9, 2016

In Italy the wine culture dates back to the Roman times. During the 19th century there were about more than three thousand hectares of vineyards across Italy.

However, these were destroyed by the Phyloxera blight that led to the destruction of the majority of the grape varieties of Italy. This was followed by the world wars which further exterminated many of the indigenous varieties leading to a complete destruction of the wine culture in Italy.

At present the Region of Valle D’Aosta serves as a hub for the cultivation of a number of varied red and white wine grape varieties. One of the famous among them is Petite Arvine.

Petite Arvine is a white wine producing grape varietal bred primarily in the Valais region of Switzerland and in the Valle D’Aosta region of Italy. Its name is in Latin was derived from the name of the Savoyard Arve Valley, where they believed to have originated.

Wine grape varieties

Although the story about its origin is quiet clouded, it has been grown in Valais for more than 500 years, which had led to the breeders and officials to consider this variety as their own.

Initially known as simply Arvine the prefix “Petite” was added to it to distinguish it from the inferior quality Grosse Arvine variety which in the recent times is no longer used to make wines on a commercial scale.

It has very specific climatic conditions and requires constant attention which is one of the main reasons why Petite Arvine is referred to as a Diva variety.

History of Petite Arvine Grapes

There is much uncertainty and speculation about the origin of Petite Arvine. Some believe that this variety had originated in Martigny. Some others believe that might have originated in the region of Aosta Valley of Italy from where it travelled to Valais during the middle ages.

Hence officially it has been enlisted as “origin unknown”. Even DNA profiling of Petite Arvine hasn’t been able to reveal any fact about its parentage or any kinship with any other variety.

The only known fact is that this variety has been grown in Valais since 1602. In 1878 the International Ampelographic Society that met in Geneva decided that Petit Arvine was a rare and unique variety that was found only in Valais.

Viticulture and Wine Making Process for Petite Arvine Grape

Being an early budding and late ripening variety which is finicky and demanding. They need sunny, bright locations that are well guarded against winds to protect these grapes and to let them ripen properly.

It is extremely gullible to pest and diseases like botrytis rot, mildew and mites and hence this variety requires special care. They do not grow well in overly dry soils. They require a loose, sandy terrain with moraine soils.

The vinification process starts with gentle pressing of the berries to produce must. After that it has been allowed to undergo fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 12 days at a temperature of exactly 18°C.

The wine produced is then allowed to age by the process of Sur Lies and Bâtonnage where the finished wine is allowed to stand in lees and occasionally the sediments are stirred back into the wine for a period of 6 months to enhance their flavour contents. It has great ageing abilities.

Characteristics of Petite Arvine Grape

Petite Arvine can be used to make dry, slightly sweet to lusciously sweet wines. They have a crisp and refreshing texture to them. In a glass the wine is slightly straw yellow in colour with a greenish hue.

It has the exotic aroma of passion fruit along with a sweet, delicate citrusy undertone and the freshness of sage. On the palate, they leave a slight minerality with a piercing tangy flavour and a slight touch of saltiness to it. One of the distinguishing features is its rich and delicate grapefruit notes.

Food pairings with Petite Arvine

This wine tastes perfectly well with Cornichons served with melted raclette Cheese. Other spicy dishes with can be paired with Petite Arvine are Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Gremolata, sicilian vegetable lasagna, mac and cheese, Chinese Ravioli, Asian noodle sauté with vegetables, beet.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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