Swiss Wine Regions

2009 Swiss Wine Guide

Wine information is easy to find. Swiss wine information is somewhat more elusive, and Swiss wine information in English is rare. So I have been eagerly waiting for the release of the first English version of the Swiss Wine Guide.  At last it is here.

The first Swiss Wine Guide in 2004 was published in two languages, German and French. It was a partnership between Vinea and Interprofession Suisse du Vin.

The second addition in 2006 brought a new publisher, Ringier Romandie, and added an Italian edition.

The new 2008 edition dropped the Italian language, but added an English edition for the first time. Also for the first time is a comprehensive listing of the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse 2008. To me this is a clear indication that the Swiss wine producers are starting to take marketing outside Switzerland's borders seriously.

The Swiss Wine Guide starts with an overview of Swiss grape growing and winemaking . It covers regions, grape varieties, and consumption. It follows this with a complete listing of the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse winners, indexed with details and contact information for all of them.

The main section of the Swiss Wine Guide is divided into the six main Swiss wine regions, Vaud, Valais, Ticino, German-speaking Switzerland, The three lakes (Neuchatel, Vully, Bienne Lake), and Geneva. It's then subdivided by localities, and selected producers. It highlights regional specialties, travel tips & ideas, associations overseeing quality, and portraits of 450 selected producers.

Following this is a comprehensive Index by domain name & wine producer name, and the guide concludes with a wine Glossary.

It is a dense, compact book that does a great job at presenting the wide range of Swiss wine. The book may be too big to "slip" into a pocket, but certainly small enough to pack for your trip through the Swiss wine areas. The small text size can be a problem for low light, or older eyes. However, that is a trade-off for getting so much information into a small package. At times it took some effort to unravel the English translation. But that is just a niggle.

The Swiss Wine Guide is well worth getting, whether you live here or just planning a trip through the Swiss wine regions. The Swiss wine world is so rich and diverse that without some guide it would be bewildering, and this guide is good: small; organized; comprehensive.

The guide is CHF 39 plus shipping

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Goron de Bovernier

Goron de Bovernier is a red grape, which according to José Vouillamoz is probably a natural hybrid of Cornalin du Valais and an unknown variety. The grape gets its name from the municipality of Bovernier, in Valais. Small quantities are still found in lower Valais.

Johannisberg

Second in white wines of Valais (after Fendant). The name Johannisberg is only used in Valais; the rest of French-speaking Switzerland call it Gros Rhin. The grape used to make Johannisberg is the Grüner Sylvaner. The origin of the grape is not clear. On the one hand it strongly resembles the Roman Apianisien (loved by bees) grape, as described by Pliny the Elder in his “Historia naturalis”, on the other hand, its more likely birthplace is in Romanian Transylvania.

Gouais Blanc

A promiscuous grape. Not good for much, but with a long, long line of descendents, including the noble Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Possibly from Croatia, it’s called Heunisch Weiss in Central Europe.

The name Gouais is comes from ‘gou’, which is a scornful word from old French referring to its standing as the grape of the peasants. Very prevalent in the Ile-de-France and in the Champagne during the Middle Ages and perhaps brought into Valais by the descendants of the Ligurians.

Acidic and with little residual sugar, it’s primarily used to blend with low acidic wine to give it a bit of liveliness. Ampelographic studies in the old vineyards of Oberwallis have found a red Gwäss with the same characteristics as the white Gwäss. Almost abandoned, it survives in Haut-Valais hiding under the alias of Gwäss, thanks to Mr. Josef-Marie Chanton, http://www.chanton.ch/home.html

He who loves not wine, women and song remains a fool his whole life long.

Martin Luther

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