Swiss Wine Regions

Ticino Wine Region: Switzerland’s Home of Merlot

bellinzona ticino vinyard

Welcome to Ticino, Switzerland’s sunny, Italian-speaking home of Merlot. Although the climate in Ticino ultimately proved to be ideal for Merlot, it wasn’t until 1906 that this venerable grape found its way there from Bordeaux.

With well-sited vineyards and the highest density of quality wine makers in Switzerland, Ticino wines have no problem holding their own on an international level. The Merlot del Ticino can vary from relatively light to as full-bodied as a traditional Bordeaux.

Originally part of the Duchy of Milan and fully part of Italy for a while, Ticino wasn’t incorporated into the Swiss Confederation until the 15th Century. Although under Swiss sovereignty, not much effort was made to integrate Ticino into the Swiss Confederation before 1803. Today Ticino’s Italian culture still remains firmly in hand.

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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Cabernet franc

Cabernet franc, one of the Bordeaux grapes, is a bit like the little brother of the Cabernet sauvignon grape. Cabernet franc is usually used for blending.

Rèze

Rèze is an extremely rare white variety found only in Valais. Not often produced as a varietal, Rèze is blended with other Vieux Plants of Valais. Rèze was also used to make the historic “vin des glaciers”, an amber colored wine produced in Val d’Anniviers using the solera technique.

No longer done today, one method in the past was to store Rèze in larch wood barrels, which gave the wine resinous flavor similar to the Greek Retsina, and masking some grape flavor.

Garanoir

A new variety (Gamay x Reichensteiner), developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Garanoir ripens early. Can give interesting blends with Gamay, Gamaret or sometimes Pinot Noir.

Wine is a peep-hole on a man.

Alcaeus

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