Swiss Wine Regions

Big and Small Graubünden

Tucked in the southeast corner of Switzerland is Graubünden, or Grisons. In the north of the canton, between Bonaduz und Fläsch, is its main wine area the Bündner Herrschaft. It is here, thanks to its geographic situation and the Föhn, that some of the best red wines in German-speaking Switzerland come from, and its speciality is the Blauburgunder (Pinot noir). Although over 80% of the wine from Graubünden is red, they also produce some fine white wines, including a bit of sweet Freisamer wine.

Graubünden is not a small canton, but everything in it seems to be. The total area under grape cultivation is just over 400 Hectares (ha); the entire area of Misox only has around 30 ha. Here the 380 vintners, some with only a couple ha, pursue their craft, and a majority of them (62 %) do their own vinification and marketing. Many of them are working together in various organizations to share logistic and promotional resources.

Trivia: Graubünden is the only canton of Switzerland with three official languages: German (54%), Romansh (31%), and Italian (15%).

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Weisser Burgunder

See: Pinot Blanc

Sylvaner

Originally from the Danube basin, Sylvaner is widely planted in well-exposed locations in Valais where it ripens later than Chasselas, producing wines with good body, bouquet and acidity. It is also used, although rarely, for late harvest wine.

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Alcohol, if taken in sufficient quantities, can give one the illusion of drunkenness.

Oscar Wilde

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

Fine Swiss Wine

Discover Switzerland’s odd grapes, small producers, and eclectic tastes