Swiss Wine Regions

Observations

Read about what shapes the wines of Switzerland.

The Föhn

Schiltorn, SwitzerlandA Föhn is a weather phenomenon that influences the climate throughout Europe and in Switzerland makes it possible to grow grape varieties in regions that would otherwise be inhospitable. Read more »

Grand Prix du Vin Suisse, 2008

No state support, no regional pre-selections, and no quotas, the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse competition is open to all Swiss wine producers, and reflects the eclectic range of Swiss wines. Read more »

No, it’s not just Chardonnay

Wine bottles and Swiss Alps photo montageThe Swiss are eclectic, life is comfortable in Switzerland, and the Swiss have been quietly gathering the best of what's around them: you see it in the food, fashion, and lifestyle, and the collection area isn't limited to the immediate neighbors of Austria, Germany, Italy and France. The Swiss are a far traveling nation.

This Swiss eclectic nature extends to their taste in wine, in which they indulge extensively; consistently in the upper percentile of per capita wine consumption. So extensively in fact, that very little Swiss wine gets exported. Surprising when you consider that many Swiss aren't even aware that wine is produced in Switzerland at all. Read more »

Swiss Wine: Hidden Treasure

Swiss wine, cow bells and the Swiss AlpsCoveted, praised or abused, wine has been studied, debated, fought over, sung about and worshipped from the loftiest pedestals to the grimiest gutters. Originally I was writing about wine in general, for my personal blog, and since I now live in Switzerland it was inevitable that Swiss wine became a topic. Then one day, looking up a couple details about Swiss wine, it was like finding a cleverly packed, pint-sized treasure box. And that I think sums up the Swiss wine industry nicely. Read more »

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Blatina

A red wine grape of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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.

Gouais Blanc

A promiscuous grape. Not good for much, but with a long, long line of descendents, including the noble Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Possibly from Croatia, it’s called Heunisch Weiss in Central Europe.

The name Gouais is comes from ‘gou’, which is a scornful word from old French referring to its standing as the grape of the peasants. Very prevalent in the Ile-de-France and in the Champagne during the Middle Ages and perhaps brought into Valais by the descendants of the Ligurians.

Acidic and with little residual sugar, it’s primarily used to blend with low acidic wine to give it a bit of liveliness. Ampelographic studies in the old vineyards of Oberwallis have found a red Gwäss with the same characteristics as the white Gwäss. Almost abandoned, it survives in Haut-Valais hiding under the alias of Gwäss, thanks to Mr. Josef-Marie Chanton, http://www.chanton.ch/home.html

New loves and old wine, give a man these and he never refines.

Francis Beeding

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