2019 Cave de l'Orlaya (Mathilde de Roux), Val de Valais - Fully "Gamay de Branson"
2019 Cave de l'Orlaya (Mathilde de Roux), Val de Valais - Fully "Gamay de Branson"

2019 Cave de l'Orlaya (Mathilde de Roux), Val de Valais - Fully "Gamay de Branson"

Val de Valais, Switzerland 2019 (750mL)
Regular price$45.00

2019 Cave de l'Orlaya (Mathilde de Roux), Val de Valais - Fully "Gamay de Branson"

The winemaking culture of Switzerland is rooted deep in this Alpine nation’s history, but you wouldn’t know that by searching the shelves at your local bottle shop or perusing wine lists at neighborhood bistros. That’s because most of their wine never leaves the snow capped peaks that make up the Swiss border. But today we’re aiming to change that, and I can’t think of a more exciting way to introduce the unique wines of the Val de Valias than via this region’s rapidly ascending winemaker extraordinaire, Mathilde de Roux. Her deeply complex, yet effortlessly refreshing take on mountain Gamay is a true revelation. Yes, given the granitic soils that dominate here you could certainly compare this to top tier Cru Beaujolais, but the distinct Alpine terroir adds layers of aroma and texture that are uniquely eye opening. So let’s go–we’re all overdue for a Swiss wine adventure!


Both of Mathilde de Roux’s parents are winemakers themselves, so to say she “grew up” in the vines and cellar is a literal truth. By age 11 she knew she wanted to be a winemaker too, but with no land inheritance on the horizon she was forced to carve an entirely new path. This meant leaving the Southern Rhône Valley where she grew up to attend school and search for her place in the viticultural world. After completing no less than three degrees, Mathilde headed to New Zealand and South Africa to intern at wineries before returning to the Southern Rhône where she worked at Clos du Caillou in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Jaboulet in Hermitage. At the same time she was making occasional trips to the Val de Valais where she had family connections and friends, and where she spent vacations as a child. 


It was through her Swiss friends and connections that she learned of a small winery in Fully that belonged to Gérard Roduit, a seasoned and respected winemaker who had no heirs interested in taking over for him, and so was looking to sell. That was how Mathilde was able to establish her own small estate in 2016 at the age of 28, in a region that she loved and with some incredible old vine parcels. She renamed the domaine “Cave de l’Orlayla,” and in a very short time she has garnered global recognition for wines that, by any measure, are squarely in the “obscurities” category. 


The Val de Valais is a beautiful, sun-drenched valley that has been carved by the Rhône River over the eons, as it flows from Alpine snow melt into Lake Geneva before entering France. Vineyards dot the hills much as they do in the more famous French appellations, and much like the Northern Rhône granite is the dominant bedrock here. Gamay is a key red grape, and as you know from all the Cru Beaujolais I love to promote, it thrives on granite. However, this is not the famous pink version, but instead the locals refer to their rock as “Granite de Fully,” named for the same village where Mathilde makes her wine. The result is a wine that has much of the silky, juicy elegance of Beaujolais, but is more deep and meaty as opposed to high-toned and floral.


Differences aside, this is still textbook Gamay, and as such I would recommend serving with a slight chill, around 50 degrees, in a Burgundy stem. Mathilde ferments and ages the wine entirely in tanks, so there is zero oak influence and decanting isn’t necessary. The fruit is mostly de-stemmed, so there is a sophisticated hint of polish, but otherwise the winemaking is generally “hands off.” The combination of warm days with tons of sunshine and crisp, cool mountain evenings lends a nice texture to the wine, and good structure as well. On the nose there is plenty of red and black fruit–morello cherry, wild strawberry, black currant–which is complemented by savory notes of dried rose, fennel, rosemary, peppercorn, and smoked meat. In essence this is the bearded, mountain man cousin of the slightly more pedigreed Cru Beaujolais that grows less than 200 miles to the west. It’s a versatile pairing wine too, excellent with a simple spread of Alpine cheese and charcuterie, or pair it with some smokey pork ribs. But the authentic thing to do is buy enough to save a few bottles for the fall and cook up a big pot of Swiss Army Stew. Now that is mountain living!


2019 Cave de l'Orlaya (Mathilde de Roux), Val de Valais - Fully "Gamay de Branson"

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