Swiss Wine Regions

Distinguished Wine Region of Neuchâtel

Subdivided into three areas: "La Béroche", from Vaumarcus to Bevaux, "The Coast", from Cortaillod to Neuchâtel, and "Entre-deux-Lacs", which lies between lake Bienne and lake Neuchâtel, the Neuchâtel wine region may not be the largest, but it has a long and distinguished history.

Everyone seems to agree on the year, 998, but not on the event. Whether it was when Count Rudolf of Neuchâtel made a gift of land to the Abbey Bevaix, or it's the year the Abbey got its first permit to plant vineyards, but 998 is the year the monastery became the nucleus of Viticulture in Neuchâtel.

Possibly because France was preoccupied by the Thirty Years War, the biggest area expansion was in the 17th century. Then from a peak in the 19th century, with 1200 hectare (ha) under grape cultivation, it dropped to 570 ha in the 1970's. Today it is around 650 ha.

Principle white grapes are the Chasselas, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir holds up the red end. There is also the odd Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamaret, und Garanoir (GxR). Three specialities of Neuchâtel are: Oeil-de-Perdrix, Non Filtré, and Perdrix Blanche.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Chasselas

In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.

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.

Lafnetscha

Here’s an obscure language lesson. The name Lafnetscha is derived from the local dialect. Because the grape is harvested early, it makes for a acerbic wine which should not be drunk too young. In the local dialect, the verb to drink is “gelafft”, so laff-nit-scha is drink-not-already (sort of). As to the grape, it is one of the oldest in from Haut-Valais. Almost identical to the Blachier. Please see Completer for more information.

Tis better for pearls to pass through the lips of swine than good wine to pass through the lips of the indifferent!

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

Fine Swiss Wine

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