• Domaines Rouvinez

    Domaines Rouvinez is a family-owned wine business established in 1947

  • Domaines Rouvinez

    Domaines Rouvinez is a family-owned wine business established in 1947

  • Domaines Rouvinez

    Domaines Rouvinez is a family-owned wine business established in 1947

  • Domaines Rouvinez

    Domaines Rouvinez is a family-owned wine business established in 1947

  • 1947

    Foundation by Bernard Rouvinez

  • 1983

    First vintage of the Tourmentin

  • 1990

    Repurchase of the Domaine Château Lichten

  • Since 1992

    Integrated production standard is introduced all across the Domaine

  • Since 2004

    Watering the vines with a micro-irrigation system all across the Domaine

  • 2007

    Renovation of the cellar at the Colline de Géronde

  • 2011

    First vintage of the Cœur de Domaine

  • Since 2012

    Organic production on selected domaines (around 16 hectares at present)

  • 2017

    Launch of the Grand Crus and of the L’Echappée beer

History

Domaines Rouvinez is a family-owned wine business established in 1947 by Bernard Rouvinez, an independent winemaker, that was later further developed by his sons, Dominique and Jean-Bernard, both of whom are wine growers and oenologists. The continuation of the family tradition was further assured by Véronique Besson-Rouvinez who entered the business as responsible oenologist and quality manager. Philippe Rouvinez being responsible for commercial activities; Frédéric Rouvinez is responsible for management and administration.

The Maison Rouvinez has changed the wine producing industry through its constant pioneering approach. From the outset, the Rouvinez family chose to focus their attention on the production of premium wines, and in particular of great local specialties, such as the Arvine and the Cornalin.

A passion for innovation and excellence

“Drinking wine means drinking genius” – Charles Baudelaire

The Rouvinez brothers played a pioneering role in the introduction of integrated production and the protection of the environment. Not only have they paid special attention to local heritage in their vineyards but they have also changed their viticultural techniques, refrain from using harmful herbicides and use drip-irrigation to water the vines. The regular maintenance of the dry stone walls not only contributes to the natural heritage of the region. By their restoration, Rouvinez helps to preserve the rich local biodiversity and flora as well as the harmony of the vineyard landscape.

The third generation still continues to develop the Domaine in that way: A part of the vineyard is thus grown according to organic farming techniques and the new method of trimming according to the Simonit approach should prolong the life of each plant by about ten years.

Since the 1980s, the two brothers have broken new ground in the creation of new blends (assemblages) in casks. The 1983 vintage brought the launch of the Tormentin, a minor revolution in the Valais wine sector. As the first wine to have been completely aged in traditional oak casks, since the 1988 vintage it has became the first blended wine in Valais integrating the great specialties of the Canton, the Cornalin, the Humagne Rouge and the Syrah. Nowadays the Tourmentin is the undisputed bestseller of the Maison Rouvinez.

In 2008, the family installed large oak barrels of 4,000 to 9,000 litres each in the Colline de Géronde cave, always trying to enhance the quality of their wines and to allow the wine to breathe and ripen. All their highest-quality wines are stored there for some months. These barrels are unique both for their imposing size and their exclusive Swiss design.

The pursuit of excellence has continued into the third generation by the making of the 2011 vintage, when three crus from exceptional terroirs added: the Coeur de Domaine Blanc, the Coeur de Domaine Rouge et le Cœur de Domaine Brut. All these three originate from the best bunches consisting of small grapes harvested at the heart of our most renowned domaines. This underlines the policy for Domaine wines that the owner family has pursued since its beginnings. They, too, are then meticulously aged in Swiss oak barrels for 12 months.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the enterprise in 2017, Domaines Rouvinez added four grand crus being made for their product range: The Sierre Grand Cru made from Marsanne grapes, the Petite Arvine, the Syrah, and the Leytron Grand Cru made from Cormalin grapes. These four crus are further enhanced in cooperation with the talented 2-star head chef Didier de Courten from the Le Terminus restaurant in Sierre (* The Grand Cru concept is a local denomination accorded exclusively to AOC wines from very limited production areas, fulfilling demanding specifications. These extraordinary and rare wines are matured with great care and passion.)

Finally, still in 2017, a slightly mad-cap idea was born. For the first time in Valais, a beer had literally took off (échappée) from a Valais cave. Promoted by Frédéric and in cooperation with the Liege brewers from Curtius, Domaine Rouvinez launched L’Echappée, a beer brewed in Martigny according to the great Belgian tradition.

Overview of the domaines

“Making good wine is a skill. Fine wine is an art” – Robert Mondavi, Harvests of Joy.

The development of the identity of the terroirs certainly is one of our key strengths. The search for the perfect match between soil and grape variety required considerable investments. In fact, the 86 hectares of domains in our property were needed to be replanted almost entirely with the aim of finding the ideal grape varieties for the various terroirs.

We cultivate all our vineyards with respect to the environment, either according to the specifications of integrated production or of organic production.

It is with the vine that the vinification process begins. We pay particular attention to both grape quality and ripeness. In the cellar, we then allow the wine to develop in the most natural manner possible by incorporating the characteristics of the terroir and the climatic conditions of the year. To ensure the freshness and fruitiness of our crus, all white wines are vinified on their own lees. We practice the ancient technique of ‘stirring’ that consists of continually stirring the lees to prevent a too rapid development of the wine and to foster the growth of the characteristic flavours of the grape varieties.

Terroir and character are the two key words to describe the wines from Domaines Rouvinez!

The Tourmentin

Conception

The original idea of the Tourmentin, a Pinot Noir aged in oak casks, was born in January 1983 (the blend, consisting of Pinot Noir, Cornalin, Humagne Rouge and Syrah, was created in 1988). In those days, no winemaker aged their wine in casks. It was considered that Swiss wine did not merit wooden casks. The Technical School in Changins even removed the topic from their curriculum!

The Rouvinez brothers, however, thought differently. They had the grapes but lacked the know-how. Dominique Rouvinez thus decided to attend a three-year course at the faculty of oenology at the University of Bordeaux. During 3 weeks per year, he discovered the secrets of this special trade in order to avoid any unnecessary beginner’s mistakes. He then left for Beaune in Burgundy with his wife Anita to buy 10 barriques which they then brought back to the Colline de Géronde. This was the beginning of our wonderful Tourmentin adventure…

The creation of the name

The ten casks were ready for the first vintage. The Pinot Noir grapes originated exclusively from vineyards located in the Sierre region from very old vines which were over 30 years old and producing very few grapes. They were thus ideal for being enhanced to create elegant and powerful wine of the same standard as the great Bourgogne wines which were so dear to Dominique! After the vinification in vats, the wine was then filled into the famous oak casks located in the equally famous tunnel of the Colline de Géronde cellars. Now a name needed to be found. Time wasn’t an issue – the wine was to remain in the casks for 12 months. The Rouvinez brothers had the idea of launching a competition in search of a name which should be strong, original, surprising, innovative, slightly eccentric but not shocking. Finally, the Maison Roth & Sauter in Denges and its owner at the time, Jean-Michel Borel won the prize for the most original name. When stopping by at the Gérone during the 1983 harvest, he became mesmerised by the “torments” of a tank of wine in strong fermentation. The name “Le Tourmentin” thus was born. The trademark was then registered in Bern. Today, more than thirty years later, we do not simply drink a good bottle of wine but we drink a Tourmentin!

The incredible history of AOC as a protected designation of origin

The AOC label (Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée) was introduced in Valais as late as 1990. Its aim was to promote the production of quality grapes and wines. The following three categories were created : category 1 for AOC quality wines, category 2 wines with an indication of origin and finally category 3 wines with no additional information than red, rosé or white wine, or simply wine.

However, the legislators had forgotten a type of wine which was just getting started: the blended wines. No article of the Law was dedicated to protect wines composed of various grape varieties. It was thus an irony of history that the Tourmentin, consisting of AOC grapes was not eligible for the AOC label. It was thus not awarded the classification for three years. This situation thus forced the legislators to take another look at the situation in order to amend the ordinance. Finally, in 1993 the Cantonal council of Valais approved of Art. 36 of the Ordinance on Valais Wine Classification. It stipulates that these wines must to be marketed under a registered trade mark followed by an “R” or their name must be followed by the indication “registered trade mark”, all of which must appear on the label.

Controversy regarding the price

At the end of the 1980s the price for a bottle of red wine was around CHF 12. A bottle of white wine cost around CHF 8. Although some daring winemakers already vinified specialties such as Cornalin, Petite Arvine or Heida, these variations did not yet have the renown they have today. People mainly drank Fendant, Dôle and Pinot Noir.

This is where the Tourmentin came in. This wine needed a much longer and more careful ageing. In the vineyards, a rigorous selection of grapes was already being carried out. The extraction of the colour and tannins from a variety as delicate as the Pinot Noir and its ageing in oak casks. This needed especially meticulous work, calling for fine and delicate skills and delicacy to be developed as Rouvinez had only just started in this field. The cost of CHF 25 per bottle thus quickly provoked a polemic since this was considered to be far too expensive for a Swiss wine. But it quickly established itself as a premium product especially in gastronomy where it became indispensible for all good restaurants. Over the years the Rouvinez family has always refused to significantly increase the price of the Tourmalin in spite of its growing renown. Today, private customers can purchase this wine for CHF 32.50, exceptional value for money for this rare wine full of subtlety and elegance.

Bottle shape

A fitting bottle shape was needed for such an excellent cru as the Tourmentin. After various tests, the Rouvinez brothers decided on the “Elite” bottle shape typical of the Bordeaux region. This was a futuristic model at that time since it was the first time that bottles of this type had been used in Switzerland. The only problem was that the bottling line was not at all adapted to this bottle variety. It was thus necessary to adapt numerous parameters; the conical form of the bottles was technically very difficult to fill and thus necessitated slower working. Moreover, three more personnel were needed to work along the bottling line to ensure that the bottles did not fall from the conveyor belts. The length of the cork and the capsules for sealing the bottles as well as the size of the label all posed problems.

But these challenges did not stop the Rouvinez brothers. On the contrary! As usual, it boosted their quest for excellence!

L’Echappée – Some Belgian history brewed by the Alps

Like many crazy projects L’Echappée was conceived on the occasion of a meaningful encounter. During a visit to Belgium in 2013 Frédéric met Renaud and François, two Liege-based young brewers. They got along nicely and quickly discovered a shared passion for fermented drinks. The result was self-evident… They combined their knowledge in the field of fermentation, in which the Valaisans were specialists, and in the field of cereal wort, which was mastered by our brewing experts, in order to create together a perfect beer. The result was a beer that was impeccable to their palate, the result of a wonderful friendship.

The experimental phase continued for some years during which the recipe was gradually refined until they produced an unfiltered beer of authentic tradition, pure and uncompromising, without the addition of aromas or sugar. Its unique taste is the result of a fermentation arising from yeasts whose secret is only known to the creators. Brewed in our cellars at Martigny, it benefits from Europe’s softest water. Belgian yeast, purest local water, in combination with shared know-how and skills; this is how a chance meeting resulted in a beer full of passion!

L’Echappée was created to satisfy the taste of beer lovers who appreciate its quality and its perfect blend. It consists of roasted and caramelised barley (90%), wheat to give it lightness and drinkability (10%) and hops with a touch of citruses providing freshness and foundation. It is no lager, no IPA, no stout, no white beer, merely a beer!

Its simple design, both plain and remarkable echoes the originality of this newcomer that is at the same time simple and fine. Its design is borrowed from the Tourmentin and includes the famous {c} of our Belgian partners. Its name (the escapee) is poetic and feminine and entices with its adventurous and daring aspects.

Brewed by the Alps, this beer already tells us a story: everybody involved in its creation contributed a part of his universe to create something common, new and surprising. A beer originating from a vineyard … no doubt the craziest innovation of the 70 year-old Domaines Rouvinez.

An expert opinion

Fabian Albrecht, owner of the Hôtel des Alpes in Fiesch and member of the national Swiss beer sommelier team says:
“A beautiful white foam covers this beer in a delicate manner. A slight shroud covers its pale yellow colour very slightly. In the nose, the citrus scent goes nicely together with the floral note of the hops. Fragrances of spices and honey can also be detected. A soft, sparkling note draped in smoothness is typical of its taste in the mouth. The finish is slightly bitter, long and smooth. This beer creates a wonderful sensation of softness accompanied by a pleasant acidity which gives it a rich freshness. With its 6.3% vol., this beer is surprisingly light and at the same time flavoursome and thirst-quenching. It is the perfect beer to taste among friends as an aperitif, accompany a salad with an acidic sauce or white meat. You’ll want more!”

Contact us

Our address

Domaines Rouvinez
Colline de Géronde
Chemin des Bernardines 45
CH - 3960 Sierre

Tél. +41 (0) 27 452 22 52
Fax +41 (0) 27 452 22 44

@ info@rouvinez.com

Opening hours

  • Monday – friday : 8:30-12:00, 13:30-17:30
  • Saturday : 10:00-12:30

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