This year's Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show White Single-Varietal over £15 went to St. Jodern Kellerei, Heida Barrique, Valais, Switzerland 2012 (14%)
- Belje, Goldberg Graševina, Podunavlje, Croatia 2006
- Casal Thaulero, Thalè, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Italy 2007
- Domaine du Chêne, Condrieu, Rhône, France 2012 • Gaia, Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, Santorini, Greece 2013
- Grace, Cuvée Misawa Akeno Koshu, Yamanashi, Chubu, Japan 2013
- Leth, Scheiben Roter Veltliner, Wagram, Niederösterreich, Austria 2013
- Mount Pleasant, Lovedale Semillon, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia 2007
- Spier, 21 Gables Chenin Blanc, Tygerberg, South Africa 2012
- Viña Mayor, Fermentado en Barrica, Rueda, Spain 2012
With heavyweights on show from Spain, South Africa, France, Australia and Italy, it’s fair to assume that the eventual Trophy-winner started as a rank outsider. But it’s a wine that excited our judges with its delicate expression, floral complexity and exotic richness – a huge coup for Switzerland.
St-Jodern Kellerei is a co-operative which started out in 1979 with 190 members. Today this number has increased to more than 500, who between them crush some 350 tonnes of grapes every year.
The man central to its success is Alsatian winemaker Alain Helmrich. Previously a chef, he moved into wine via sales, before deciding to study winemaking. He’s been at St-Jodern Kellerei since 2009.
‘Heida Barrique is one of four wines that we make from the versatile Heida grape (also known as Paien or Savagnin Blanc),’ explains Helmrich. ‘Two are unoaked, one has more residual sugar and this one is vinified and aged in oak barrels.’
Although Heida hails from Jura, Helmrich claims that it’s very well suited to the land around the village of Visperterminen, which has hot summers and brutal winters. ‘The grape gives us fresh but powerful wines capable of long ageing,’ he says. ‘Our vineyards, framed by an Alpine backdrop, are planted on a range of different soils between 650m and 1,150m, and all work in the vineyard is entirely manual. Every year is a huge challenge for us.’ Just 7,000 bottles of this Trophy-winner were made.
Written by Decanter