As you know from my post, Swiss Wine Facts, I have been to Switzerland recently. There I met with half a dozen winemakers and visited their wineries. The Adrian and Diego Mathier Estate was one of the wineries in my itinerary.
The Mathier Family and their Estate
The Adrian & Diego Mathier Estate is located in Salquenen, in the Swiss Canton of Valais. The Mathier family has been living in this wine producing village since 1387. The Mathiers have been making wine for four generations. Their domain extends to a total of 25 hectares (62 acres) of vineyards in Salquenen and Chamoson.
Wine is more than just a business to the Mathiers. It is their way of life. As with other Swiss wine producers, quality is the Mathier winery’s topmost priority.
Distinctive Salquenen Soil
Salquenen soil is unique in Valais. Salquenen soil is rich in lime and magnesium. On the other hand, the soil in most other wine producing areas of Valais consists of slate and gravel.
The grapes are not crushed. A centrifuge is used to separate the grapes from their stems. After fermentation, the grapes are pressed using a pneumatic press (applying pressure not exceeding 1.5 bars).
The Mathier Estate practices what I call “individual plot fermentation,” which is when grapes from a certain area (plot) of a vineyard are selected to be fermented by themselves rather than in a mixture with all the grapes of the same varietal harvested from the entire vineyard. This lets the Mathiers “experiment” and/or separate better quality grapes from lesser ones.
The Mathier family does not chaptalize their wine. Mathier vineyards get close to 330 days of sun per year! Additives may be added or used in the course of wine-making. Such additives include yeast, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, calcium dioxide, and fining agents.
Wine may or may not be aged in oak. When it is, a type of French oak is used. Specifically, the Mathier family uses Quercus petraea (Sessile Oak) and Quercus robur (Pedunculate Oak).
The Mathier family produces more than 45 different types of wine and distillates. One of their most notable products is Glacier Wine (vin du glacier), a late harvest (noble rot) wine stored in ice chambers dug right into the Aletsch Glacier. These ice chambers make a perfect storage for late harvest wine. The ice acts as an electromagnetic shield, protecting the wine. This plus the low ambient temperature (just above freezing level) and the highly humid air all work together to preserve the wine.
The Mathier family’s wine production facilities are modern and very well maintained. (No surprise there; this is Switzerland, after all.) There are small, stainless steel tanks which the Mathiers use for individual plot fermentation (see the “wine making particularities” section). Over the last few years, the winery’s facilities have undergone massive construction/renovation. This modernized operations and increased productivity without sacrificing quality.
The Adrian & Diego Mathier tasting room is open to the public. So the next time you are in Switzerland and find yourself in Valais (perhaps you’re on your way to visit the alpine resort of Crans-Montana or Zermatt – home to Switzerland’s, if not the world’s, most famous mountain, Matterhorn or maybe you’re just traveling by train to Italy), be sure to make a quick stop in Salquenen and sample some of Adrian & Diego Mathier’s award-winning wines (that’s 150 gold medals over the years). I highly recommend it!