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French Wine Travel, Wine Blog, Wine Travel

switzerland, fendant and an attempt at speaking french.

I am in what is, quite possibly, the funniest little Swiss café in the heart of Sierre, listening to some Air Supply influenced version of Meatloaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything for Love,” searching on my half dependable internet connection for a translation of “Could I please see the wine bottle?”

I am helpless.  Utterly helpless.  Five weeks was surely not enough time to learn the basics of the French language.

So I sit here and laugh a little at my muted state.  When I attempt to speak, I can only imagine how bamboonish I must sound, as they stare blankly at me, trying to extract a kernel of sense from my attempt and, alas, cannot.

I am drinking a local wine… I think.  It has a golden tinge to it.  Like a Chardonnay.  It even smells a bit like it, with ripened gold apple in the nose, maybe even a hint of nuttiness.  I believe it is too fragrant, however, and too unlikely that they would use this common international grape.

Then again, Chardonnay is pretty slutty.  It easily finds comfort in just about any region’s soil in the world.

{Moments later… after much courage and second-guessing on my internal dialogue with the waitress…]

“Je voudrais voir la bouteille de vin, si vout plait” (I would like to see the bottle of wine, please…).

The result.  A huff of confusion.  A calling of a second waiter who decoded my horrible pronunciation.  The first waitress actually angry after my attempt.  Whatever happened to the French being happy that you even try?  Ah right… I am in Switzerland after all.  I don’t know how it is here.

Regardless, I finally had the bottle in front of me. And here is what I learned…

The wine is from Caves Orsat in Martingy in the AOC of Valais.  Valais is responsible for 1/3 of Switzerland’s wine production—the largest, in fact.  It is made of the Fendant varietal.  Fairly low in both alcohol (12%) and acid, you can tell it is used more as an aperitif and less as a food wine.  Upon learning more of Fendant, it also happens to find itself at ease in a variety of microclimates and soil types, much like its friend over on the corner: Chardonnay.  So while some are better cared for, as it seems this one has been, others are rumoured to lack character and charm.  It is the second most planted varietal in Switzerland—second only to Pinot Noir, its famed grape.

So there you go.  Fendant.  I leave this blog listening to Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses and wondering how to pay for this wine, having no Swiss francs and knowing my carte de credite will not be pronounced correctly…


About mistralwine1982

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.


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