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

Aligot

Originates from Burgundy and spread through France. Originally called “Plant du Rhin” when it was brought to Geneva in the early 1900’s, and is now something of a specialty in Geneva. It was also introduced into Valais as an alternative to Johannisberg, but it didn’t fare so well and today survives in only a few small areas in Unterwallis.

Mondeuse

An old red grape variety well known in neighboring Savoie, Mondeuse is a rarity found in scattered plots in Chablais (Vaud).

Johannisberg

Second in white wines of Valais (after Fendant). The name Johannisberg is only used in Valais; the rest of French-speaking Switzerland call it Gros Rhin. The grape used to make Johannisberg is the Grüner Sylvaner. The origin of the grape is not clear. On the one hand it strongly resembles the Roman Apianisien (loved by bees) grape, as described by Pliny the Elder in his “Historia naturalis”, on the other hand, its more likely birthplace is in Romanian Transylvania.

Wine is at the head of all medicines; where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary.

Talmud

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