Petite Arvine is a white grape variety grown mainly in Valais, Switzerland and Italys Valle d Aosta. It is unclear exactly where the variety originated, and growers and officials from both regions claim it as their own. Petite Arvine wines are defined by their bracing acidity and grapefruit aromas, and often show a touch of salty minerality on the palate.
The grape has been cultivated in Valais for at least 500 years, although some researchers argue that it may have been brought to the area from Italy or even Savoie in France.
Even the origin of the name Arvine is disputed – it could come from the route it took to get to Switzerland, an ancient Roman grape variety, or the Latin word for arrived. The Petite prefix was initially given to distinguish from the lesser-quality Grosse Arvine grape variety, which is no longer used to make wine on a commercial scale.
Petite Arvine is early budding and late ripening, and is somewhat fussy in the vineyard.
It needs sunny sites that are protected from the wind so its grapes can reach full ripeness, which can be up to a month after Chasselas. It is susceptible to mildew, botrytis bunch rot and mites, and needs sites which are not too dry. Petite Arvines saving grace is that it is rather productive – as well as the high quality of its wines.