Over a 3rd of Swiss Wine comes from the vineyards of Valais, stretching for 100 kilometres alongside the river Rhône. Sion, the area’s capital straddles the river, and two 13th-century castles, Valere and Tourbillon, overlook the city. Vineyards, typical of the world, run up the steep slopes and alongside the terraces of the southeast-facing hillsides.
In 2019, after the harvest in October, they began staging what they name a Marathon Des Saveurs. This annual occasion entails an all-day 22km hike by way of the vineyards, with 5 pit stops to pattern two wines and style a neighborhood dish.
There are two routes, every working in reverse instructions by way of the valley, and each begin on the Place de la Planta in Sion. It appears like a variety of enjoyable.
The day dawns vibrant and sunny however not too sizzling, excellent for the hike. Being Swiss, all the things is extraordinarily environment friendly, with begin occasions staggered – I’ve been allotted the 9.20 slot and arrive on the Place de la Planta a couple of minutes beforehand.
I gather the free water bottle and my wine glass and am all set. On the map, it appears straightforward however I’ve a sneaking feeling that we’ll be strolling up and down the steep winery slopes.
Stage One – Cave du Mont d’Orge
And I’m not fallacious. First, it’s uphill on the highway, earlier than turning off and finishing a half circuit across the scenic Lac du Mont d’Orge. Pink indicators guarantee we will’t get misplaced they usually result in the primary cease at Cave du Mont d’Orge. There’s already fairly a crowd however wine and meals are effectively doled out at separate stalls. An Assiette Valaisanne, native cheese and sausage, works nicely with the 2 wines – a white Fendant Gran Cru Ville de Sion and a pink Dôle.
Stage Two – Tour Lombarde
I linger for about thirty minutes earlier than getting going once more. After a few glasses of wine, there’s now a common air of celebration. Some have even bought additional bottles and are refilling their glasses and toasting as they stroll. The views down the valley, again to Sion are spectacular, and the route takes us up and down after which up once more.
The following cease is at Tour Lombarde within the village of Saint-Severin. Already, there are much less folks right here than on the first halt. The queues for wine are additionally shorter and I’m served a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, each grown regionally. Cooks are stirring huge vats of Soupe de Courge, pumpkin soup, and with a couple of items of bread, it’s sufficient sustenance to gasoline the third stage.
Stage Three – Ardon
It’s a straightforward climb up by way of the vineyards. Although the principle harvest is over, there are nonetheless grapes on the vines and work continues to be ongoing.
The indicators lead downwards to the village of Ardon. Right here they’re making ready Raclette, softening up the cheese on gasoline burners after which peeling sizzling strips onto paper plates.
Small potatoes and pickled onions full the dish. The accompanying wines are a white Paien and a pink Gamay.
Stage 4 – Chamoson
From right here it’s very severe uphill, proper up the facet of the valley, then following terraces by way of the vineyards and extra climbing.
I appear to be forward of the pack as I encounter few hikers, the others maybe lingering to higher benefit from the wines. That is undoubtedly probably the most strenuous a part of the stroll however I make it to the fourth cease, simply above Chamoson. There’s desk service right here with a hearty Croute aux Champignons, wild mushrooms on toast, nearly a full meal. You continue to should get your individual wine, although, this time a white Johannisberg and a pink Cornalin.
Stage 5 Saint-Pierre-de-Clages
The top is in sight because the railway line and the station lies under, seemingly not far. It’s downhill from right here, by way of the outskirts of Chamoson to Saint-Pierre-de-Clages. I arrive at round 4pm, after round six and half hours of strolling. I’m drained however not exhausted and likewise not the primary. Apparently, regardless that I’ve downed eight glasses of wine in the course of the day, it appears to have had no impact on my exertions.
There’s no celebration, prize or medal, however simply two extra wonderful wines, Petite Arvine and Humagne Rouge. After the ultimate stage, it’s time for dessert – Tarte au Johannis, a kind of baked egg custard with Johannisberg wine. I forgo espresso and amble right down to the station and catch the practice again to Sion.
Valais wines are little recognized outdoors Switzerland, partially as a result of only a few are exported. Throughout my hike, I’ve tasted sturdy reds, primarily from indigenous grape varieties, and likewise delicate Pinot Noir wines, the principal selection within the Dôle mix. The whites are typically mild and delicate like Fendant or Petite Arvine. The Marathon Des Saveurs is a superb method to pattern Valais wines, proper within the coronary heart of the gorgeous vineyards.
INFO: The following Marathons des Saveurs will happen on 22/10/2022
My Switzerland has details about the nation.
Go to Valais has details about the area.
Sion Tourism has details about the city.
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STAY: Lodge Elite makes a snug base within the centre.
EAT: Restaurant La Pinte Contheysanne serves good native meals.