Swiss Wine Regions

2008: a Fine Year for Swiss Wine

Swiss Wine Grape Harvest 2008, Zurich, by A. Haenni"So how good was the 2008 Swiss wine harvest?"

Well, thank you for asking, because it was a close one. The hail storms in some areas of Switzerland didn't cause too much damage, but the bad weather in the early fall had the Swiss wine growers skittish. Fortunately Bacchus proved accommodating. A pleasant Indian summer followed with gentle breezes and sunny days. In the end the Swiss wine growers were more than satisfied.

Warm sunny days and cool evenings are ideal for wine grapes. The grapes are able to mature, develop excellent sugar levels, and be harvested at the best time of the year. Although, "not the best we've seen these past ten years," says Thierry Walz, a member of the Swiss Wine Exporters' Association, but comparable to 2006, one of the best recent vintages. The Chasselas and Pinot Noir grapes particularly benefited.

Yields were 3.5% higher as well, according to the Swiss Department of Agriculture, up roughly 35, 000 hectoliters to 1, 075,561 hectoliters .

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

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.

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.

Kerner

Named after local poet and physician, Justinus Kerner, the Kerner grape was hybridized in 1929 in Lauffen in the Württemberg region. A hybrid of the white Riesling and the red Trollinger (Schiava grossa), it resembles the Riesling in character. It is being vinified in limited quantities in Valais, but its future in Valais dosen’t look too bright. It continues to do well in Germany, and on a smaller basis in Austria and Italy.

Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep well and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.

Medieval German saying

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