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

Blatina

A red wine grape of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Himbertscha

Himbertscha is one of the rare indigenous white varieties from Haut-Valais, mostly at home in the vineyards of Visperterminen (Upper Valais). The name Himbertscha is said to come from a raspberry (himbeer in German) taste of the wine himbeerartigen. Jose-Marie Chanton who specializes in cultivating the old vines from Wallis makes this wine available under the quality label “Brantignon”. He also cultivates the Himbertscharebe, another “rediscovered” old Walliser white wine.

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

Wine is at the head of all medicines; where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary.

Talmud

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