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Although the main valley highway south from Montreux bypasses AIGLE, this alluring little town is well worth the small detour for a lazy afternoon of castle exploration and wine tasting. Aigle is the main town of the Chablais wine region, and its prime landmark – the fantastical Château d’Aigle, a fifteenth-century folly with corner towers and witch’s-hat turrets – is now home to two excellent museums devoted to wine and wine production. Aigle’s other claim to fame is five hundred years old: in 1476, the town was integrated into Canton Bern as the first French-speaking territory to join the Swiss Confederation. Shortly after, in 1526, newly converted Bernese Protestants sent Guillaume Farel to preach the Reformation in Aigle, the first time this had ever been done in a francophone region.

Along with its near-neighbour Yvorne, Aigle produces what are acclaimed as the best wines of the region, and some of the best in all Switzerland, the gravelly clay-like soil nurturing especially good dustily elegant, fruity whites (“It’s difficult to find a bad white Aigle,” commented wine writer John C. Sloan). Les Murailles, from the Badoux winery, is one of the very few Swiss wines to be marketed in North America – it and the Crosex Grillé Grand Cru are the two best names to ask for. Further south, the nearby towns of Bex and Ollon produce their own tangy, flowery whites, largely for local consumption only: Philos is probably the best of them.

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