Robert Gilliard Fendant 1997
He was succeeded in 1918 by his son, Robert Gilliard, who enlarged the Estates, adding numerous properties situated at the heart of the vine-growing area on the slopes above Sion. He enlarged as well the cellars he had inherited and soon distinguished himself through his style of vinification "à la vaudoise". He built a great reputation for the "Fendant les Murettes", still unanimously appreciated by connoisseurs to this day.
Under the direction of François Gilliard, who took over in 1953, the firm expanded further acquiring vines at la Cotzette and building new cellars at Platta. Specialities of Valais (Petite Arvine, Amigne, Muscat, Ermitage, Malvoisie) contributed to the national and international renown of Gilliard's range.
In the firm's centenary year of 1985 with no heir apparent to continue the line, the Gilliard family appointed Willy Becker, related by marriage to the founding family, to continue the work undertaken by the three generations of the family. He his now assisted by his son, Claude, who represents the fifth generation.
Enhancing quality and diversity of wine grapes in recent years after the Swiss government lifted import controls on wine, Switzerland is beginning to gain some ground aside its European neighbors. While its main variety is the white Chasselas, more than half of Switzerland’s wine production is red. The country has 15,000 ha of vineyards mainly in the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.