Swiss Wine Regions

Schaffhausen, Land of Blauburgunder

Red wine grapes and red leaves

Blauburgunder, did I hear you say? Oh yeah, Schaffhausen’s nickname of Blauburgunderland is well deserved. Blauburgunder, or Pinot noir for the rest of us, is by far the dominant wine grape in Schaffhausen.

Red wine makes up nearly 70% of wine production in Schaffhausen, and most of that is Pinot noir, some of which finds itself in a nice late-harvest wine. There is also Cabernet sauvignon, Diolinoir, Garanoir, Merlot, and Regent; not to mention Dorenoir, which is a blend of Pinot noir, Regent (itself a cross) and Dornfelder.

Riesling-Sylvaner (Muller-Thurgau) is the leading white wine grape in Schaffhausen, with Chasselas, Chardonnay, Kerner, Pinot blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer (sometime making a flétri dessert wine), rounding out the white wine grape selection.

The Romans probably brought wine north to the canton of Schaffhausen, but it was the monks that spread the joys of wine around. The well-tended vineyards on the hills above Hallau, Oberhallau, Osterfingen, Schaffhausen, Thayngen, Trasadingen, Wilchingen, Wisental and others, benefit from warm, dry summers, cool winters, and the lowest amount of rainfall in eastern Switzerland. Today the little canton of Schaffhausen produces a rather impressive amount of wine. Good wine.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

Pinot Gris

Called Malvoisie in Valais, this grape has nothing to do with any of the Malvoisie varieties of the Muscat family and is another of the mutations of Pinot Noir. A vine grown in many of the Swiss areas, in Valais, Pinot Gris produces a fine sweet late harvest wine with honey overtones.

Muskat Canelli

Muskat Canelli made its way from Italy to Valais, where it has limited production, and produces a dry white wine.

A remedy for the moroseness of old age.

Plato

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

Fine Swiss Wine

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