Swiss Wine Regions

White

Sauvignon blanc

One of the classic grapes of France, Sauvignon blanc is planted in most wine regions of the world. It produces a wide range of wine styles.

Wine Styles: 
rich, wines with decent acid
Origin: 
France
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Räuschling

The Räuschling grape is a very old and probably indigenous Swiss white wine grape. Once fairly common in Switzerland and Alsace, Räuschling got pushed aside by the more useful Müller-Thurgau grape, and today Räuschling is a minor grape. Still found in Alsace, France, and occasionally used in the “Vin d’Alsace”, it still retains quite some respect in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, most notably in the canton of Zurich, where is is considered a “Zuri-grape”.

It is also planted in Valais.

Synonyms: 

Brauner Nürnberger, Buchelin, Divicina, Divizhna, Divishna-vizhna, Dretsch, Drötsch, Drutsch, Dünnelbling, Erjava Tizhna, Frankentraube, Gros fendant, Großer Räuschling, Grünspat, Guay Jaune, Heinzler, Klaffer, Klöpfer, Luttenberger, Luttenbergerstock, Luttenbershna, Lyonnaise Blanche, Melon Blanc, Nürnberger Braun, Offenburger, Padebecker, Pfäffling, Pfaffentraube, Räuschling Gross, Reuschling, Rössling, Ruchelin, Rüschling, Rüssling, Silberweiß, Thunerrebe, Weißer Kläpfer, Weißer Räuschling, Zürirebe, Züriweiß, Zürichrebe und Züriwiss

Wine Styles: 
subtle, balanced, fruity, fresh white wine with a pleasing acidity
Origin: 
Switzerland

Planscher

Planscher belongs to a group of grapes that do well in the Alpine regions of Italy and in Valais, Switzerland. An ancient white wine grape vine once found in the Rhone valley, it was close to being extinct. Today small amounts of Planscher grow in Visperterminen, Canton Valais.

Synonyms: 

Barolo, Bourguignon, Bourgogne Blanc, Gamay Blanc, Gros Bourgogne, Bourgogne Gros Rhin Gros, Plant du Rhin and Schaffhausen

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Marsanne Blanche

Originally from the steep slopes of the Côtes-du-Rhône, the Marsanne blanche grape found its way up the Rhone to Valais in Switzerland, and is known here under the name of Ermitage (or Hermitage).

Synonyms: 

Ermitage, Hermitage, Rousanne blanche, Marsanne

Wine Styles: 
A smooth and full-bodied aperitif and dessert wine, Ermitage is a good wine to lay down
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The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Chasselas

In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.

Humagne Blanche

Only planted in Valais today, Humagne blanche* is another of the very old Swiss grapes, probably brought in by the Romans. Having a high iron content, and supposedly health-giving properties, this wine was decreed a “health wine” (Krankenwein) for centuries. The old written documents in which this wine is referred to as vinum hum-anum date from the 12th and 14th Centuries. It’s also called Kinderbettenwein or baby crib wine. I’ll bet those kids didn’t have much to cry about.

*no relation to the Humagne Rouge

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.

In vino veritas.

Pliny the Elder

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