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

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.

Pinot Noir

Genetic studies have revealed that Pinot Noir is probably one of the two ancestors (the other being the humble Gouais) of some of the most important vines cultivated in Europe today. It is certainly a particularly ancient variety, and originally from Burgundy. Pinot Noir, with its associated clones, is found all over Switzerland, but it is only in the eastern region that it dominates production. It is either produced as a varietal or blended with other grapes. These blends are known as Salvagnin in Vaud and Dôle in Valais. Depending on where it is grown, it can produce a wine that is either light and fruity, or rich and full-bodied.

Bondola

An indigenous and ancient red grape from Ticino, Bondola has slightly higher acidity and lower alcohol, and produces a good simple table wine, often called Nostrano.

And how's this for a description of the perfect wine? "It's like the perfect wife--it looks nice and is nice, natural, wholesome, yet not assertive; gracious and dependable, but never monotonous.

Anonymous

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

Fine Swiss Wine

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