Swiss Wine Regions

Wine Classification

Semi-generic

Wines made in the United States but named after places that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau requires be modified by a US name of geographic origin. Examples would be New York Chablis, Napa Valley Burgundy or California Champagne.

Reserva

Spanish and Portuguese term for a reserve wine.

Qualit

A designation of best quality German wines from recognized viticultural areas, that must conform to specific requirements of origin and composition.

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Fendant

Fendant is a protected designation and may only be used in Valais for wines made from the Chasselas grape. In contrast to its native France, where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in 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.

Bernarda

An old vine, but you won’t find it for sale anymore. However it’s being experimented with by Jean Nicollier (I’m searching for more references). The Bernarda is a Prié blanc from the Val d’Aosta that may have come into Switzerland over the St. Bernhard pass, and hence the name.

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