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

Pinot blanc

Pinot blanc is a mutation of Pinot Gris. It may have found its way up the Rhône to Valais with any number of mercenaries returning to Switzerland, and today small quantities are cultivated in many Swiss wine regions. When grown in favorable conditions it produces a fruity wine with good acidity.

Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains

The Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, is one of the oldest grape varieties still around. It’s linked to the Anathelicon moschaton grape used by the Ancient Greeks, and the Apiane grapevines of the Romans. A white grape, it’s a member of the Muscat family. The name comes from its small berry and tight clusters. it’s called Muscat Canelli in Valais, but also goes under lots of names: Muscat Blanc, Moscato Bianco, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel Rosé and Sárgamuskotály. Theoretically a white grape, the Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains can also produce berries that are pink or reddish brown.

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.

Burgundy for Kings, Champagne for Duchesses, and claret for Gentlemen

French Proverb

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