Swiss Wine Regions

Aargau: wine any way you like it

Red wine grapes (Garanoir) from Aargau Switzerland

Crisscrossed by rivers, dotted with hills & lakes, and including what seems like every type of soil a grapevine is capable of growing in, Aargau is the 4th largest German-speaking Swiss wine region.

It’s hard to believe—this being Switzerland—that until 1959 disorder reigned in Aargau’s wine production, at least as far as wine grape varieties were concerned. Then Phylloxera hit the grapevines, and controls were introduced that brought proper Swiss order to the region.

Initially, only handful of grape varieties were “recommended” for wine production in Aargau, but in keeping up with the times, today it seems it’s only the growing conditions—which vary widely—that limit the type of wine grapes found here. As is true in several other Swiss wine regions, the wine grape varieties range from old “rediscovered” grapevines to the newest hybrids.

Zones

The Aargau wine region can be sub-divided into three wine zones. The better-known wines come from Klingnau, Doettingen, Tegerfelden, Wuerenlingen and Ennetbaden, which are in the northeastern zone, in the Lower Aare and Limmat valleys. The other two zones are the northwestern wine zone, between Rheinfelden and Aarau, and the Southeastern zone between the Aare and Limmat rivers.

Since 1950, the annual Winzerfeste Döttingen, Aargau, Switzerland is the largest wine festival in German-speaking Switzerland.

Terroir

The variety of topography, location, climate and soil makes the wines of Aargau multi-faceted. Calcareous (lime) soil is almost ubiquitous in Aargau. Also prevalent are Morainic hills, plus river terraces with gravel, clay and silt. The limestone produces aromatic wine, while gravel soils can give the wine softness. Pinot Noir, called Blauburgunder here, becomes full-bodied and rich when planted in the heavy soils.

Almost all wine produced in Aargau is based on natural, environmentally friendly Integrated production (IP), with some companies following Vinatura production guidelines or even going further and producing organic wine. Many Aargau wines are awarded the A.O.C. label, Winzerwy, or Vinatura.

Grapes

Blauburgunder (Pinot noir) and Riesling x Sylvaner are the main grapes of Aargau’s wine output, with Blauburgunder the clear winner. Roughly 70% of wine production in Aargau is red wine. Other red wine grapes are Léon Millot, Dornfelder, Regent, and Gamay x Reichensteiner (Garanoir).

The white wine production of Aargau is mostly from Riesling x Sylvaner, followed by Pinot Gris, Räuschling, Chardonnay, Savagnin blanc, Charmont, Gewürztraminer, and Kerner.

As well as producing principally red wines Grappa is also made in this area.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Gamaret

A new variety, developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Gamaret is enjoying a growing success with producers and consumers alike. It produces a wine that is richly coloured and well-structured with sometimes-spicy notes that ages well. Gamaret is a cross between Gamay and Reichensteiner (a white grape.)

Freisamer

The Freisamer plays more of a role in Graubünden but has a small presence in a few other cantons. It’s a hybrid of Silvaner x Pinot gris, developed in Freiburg in the Breisgau region. A temperamental grape that puts great demands on the type of soil and location—do I hear you say “terroir”?—it’s been trying to make a name for itself since the sixties but hasn’t really taken off.

Cornalin

An ancient and indigenous alpine variety found only in Valais, Cornalin gives a wine that is fruity with a fine bouquet and intense purple-red color. The slightly rustic hint makes it a good companion for game dishes.

Age appears to be best in four things--old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

L. Bacon

Swiss Alps, cows, wine bottle and large clock face in Bern, Switzerland

Fine Swiss Wine

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