Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Making

Vintage

The year in which a particular wine’s grapes were harvested. When a vintage year is indicated on a label, it signifies that a minimum percentage of the grapes used to make the wine in the bottle were harvested in that year. Applicable regulatory bodies set the minimum percentage.

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Vintner

Winemaker, wine producer or winery proprietor.

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Vigneron

French for vine grower.

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Vigour

A vine’s growth rate.

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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.

Gewürztraminer

The name Gewürztraminer is obviously German, although the origin of the grape is the Tyrollean Alps, near the village of Termeno (Tramin) in Alto Adige, Italy. Gewürz is German for spice. The vine is evidently a pain in the ass to grow and does best in cooler climates. In Germany the wine of this grape is often made off-dry, in Alsace it’s dry and floral, and in Switzerland it produces a wide range. Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals and reasonably easy to identify with just your nose. It is one of the few wine that can hold its own with spicy Asian food.

Riesling

A classic German white variety, Riesling (or Petit Rhin) is rare in Valais but does produce good results on the favorable schistose soils around Sion.

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