Switzerland Today


Humagne Rouge

Also known as the Cornalin d'Aoste, Humagne Rouge is an offspring of the Cornalin du Valais, according to the University of California at Davis, whose researchers carried out DNA testing on the grape.

Swiss DNA profilers at Changins and Italians in Aosta established that Humagne Rouge is the same variety as the Cornalin d'Aoste. Like the Cornalin it is said to need aging.

Introduced into Valais at the end of the 19th century, the winegrowers association Vins du Valais now says it is the second great red wine (after Cornalin) that has a Valais identity. Described as fruity when young, it is praised for its" rustic aroma" when aged to the optimum 5-6 years.

All this is a build-up to my judgement that, despite its pedigree, humagne rouge has always disappointed me, tasting flat with none of the fruity flavour of even the cheapest Dole.

Of course, that might be because I never allow the wine to age as recommended. So I am not the best judge.

But see the next para.

You should know that in 2011 Vins du Valais gave a 2011 Humagne Rouge one of its gold stars: Humagne Rouge Cuvée des Empereurs Côteaux de Sierre, which also earned a gold in 2010 for its 2009 vintage - Cave La Romaine, Flanthey.

The 2010 bottle cost CHF22 but is now sold out.You can still get at as part of a limited CHF190.- case of six top wines from Vins du Valais, but you are paying quite a bit for the case itself. Pity, because it is a wine that makes tasters exclaim with surprise at its quality.

List of Valais gold-starred wines

Peter Hulm is Advisor on Innovative Journalism to the European Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies (Saas-Fee/New York) and maintains the crosslines.ch website.