Wines from Switzerland's canton Valais have been awarded top marks at an international wine fair in Brussels.
The 'Concours Mondial de Bruxelles' gave eight gold medals to Swiss wines, and six of these came from canton Valais.
The judges were particularly impressed with the stronger dessert wines from the Valais, and awarded gold medals to three of them.
Three red wines from the Valais also got top marks; all from the Syrah varietal. A further two golds were awarded to wines from canton Vaud.
Thousands of wines to try
The Brussels competition was founded in 1994, and is now recognised as one of the world's top wine judging events. This year the juries tested 3,791 wines from 44 different countries.
For Switzerland, 2002 was a particularly good showing; Swiss vintners doubled their gold medal total from four in 2001 to eight this year, and the number of silver medals increased from eight last year to a staggering 26 in 2002.
But canton Valais continues to dominate; as in 2001, the Valais winemakers took the lion's share of the medals this year too.
Good news for Swiss
The success in Brussels is good news for Swiss winemakers, many of whom hope to gain greater international recognition for their products.
Swiss wine is traditionally produced mainly for the domestic market; the difficult terrain and comparatively small grape harvest meant Switzerland found it difficult to compete on the international market with wine producing giants like France and Italy.
But as tastes in wine change some Swiss wine producers are hoping to find a niche overseas for some of their most unusual products. Organic wine, and wine made from grapes known only in Switzerland, such as the Chasselas varietal, are thought to have good prospects.
The medals in Brussels may be just the impetus Swiss wines need to find their niche on the international wine market.
Swissinfo with agencies