The Caloz family established their domaine in 1960, setting up their home and cellar in the village of Miege which sits midway between the town of Sierre, at the southern end of the Valais, and the famous ski area of Crans-Montana. Fernand Caloz, father of the current proprietaire, began the arduous process of tending the vines in this mountainous region where the vineyards sit on steep terraces and must be worked by hand. Conrad Caloz, son of Fernand, joined by his wife, Anne-Carole, now manages the affairs of this small family domaine.
The domaine follows a philosophy and system of viticulture known locally as “Production Intégrée”, an approach designed to “protect nature and the environment”. Conrad Caloz is a founding member of Vitival, the governing body of this viticultural movement, since 1989. The rules of this system require the growers to follow a regimen of sustainable practices in the vineyards and the equipment used in the production of the wines is regulated as well, all in the cause of insuring the ongoing vitality of this visually stunning region.
The Coteaux de Sierre appellation and the village of Miège benefit from the high-altitude conditions typical of the Alps. The soil is heavily infused with stones of all sizes set within a thin topsoil, conditions which create excellent drainage and provide a setting for wines to express an intense minerality. An exceptional amount of sunlight, long summers and minimal precipitation create ideal conditions for growing ripe and healthy grapes.
Within the appellation of Coteaux de Sierre, there are two distinct vineyard sites recognized for producing superior quality. Caloz has planted his vineyards to a wide range of grapes of local origin. “La Mourzière” is a terraced slope that produces wines of finesse and elegance. Due to the steep slope of the hill, the vineyards are exclusively on terraces that are supported by man-made stone walls. Within “La Mourziere”, Caloz’s parcels are planted to Fendant (Chasselas), Petite Arvine and Humagne rouge. The other special site, “Les Bernunes”, is located on the high slopes sitting between the villages of Sierre and Salquenen. “Les Bernunes” was the first vineyard cited in the ancient historical records of the Valais region. This micro-climate, influenced by its position in a concave bowl in the slope, allows for age-worthy wines of structure and balance, as well as late-harvest delicacies. Here, Caloz has planted the Savagnin grape, known locally as Heida-Paien, and the Cornalin.
Caloz’s Gamay comes from an ancient vineyard called “Les Fontanettes” which sits above the town of Miege. Soils here are poor and limestone-dominated, full of stones with the hard limestone very close to the surface. Sandrine works her vineyards without the use of chemicals, and harvest is always entirely by hand. In the cellar, fermentation begins naturally, inside the grapes, and pressing is done toward the end of fermentation (a classic semi-carbonic maceration). Fermentation and aging take place in stainless steel, and without extreme temperature regulation. Sulfur is only applied after malolactic fermentation is complete—neither on the grapes, nor at bottling—and then only a homeopathic dose.
An expression of exuberant wild berries marks Cave Caloz Cornalin Les Bernunes Valais 2016 the best of the Cornalins produced in the Valais. Again, the exceptional exposure of the “Les Bernunes” vineyard permits the Cornalin grape to ripen well, producing a purple-tinted wine that is vivacious and lightly tannic in the finish.