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

Merlot

Imported from the Bordeaux region, Merlot has found a second home in Ticino where it performs extremely well. Later-ripening than the other main Swiss varieties, it is hardly present in other areas. Merlot red wines are racy, tannic and richly colored. A white wine from this black grape, commercialized as Merlot Bianco, gives quite interesting results and is increasingly popular with producers and consumers alike.

Mondeuse

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

Arvine

Another delivery from Rome, there are actually three Arvine grape varieties, only two used for wine production: Grand Arvine, with the larger berries, and Petit Arvine, with the, you guessed it, smaller berries. The unloved Arvine brune has faded from the scene. Grand Arvine gets criticized for displaying little character, whereas the Petit Arvine tends to have a fuller bouquet and lower acidity. In blind tasting, Petit Arvine generally kicks ass against its plumper brother. Arvine is also an excellent grape for late harvest wine, which can be cellared.

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

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