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

Chénin blanc

The versatile “Pinot de la Loire” produces some fine wine in Valais. Like the Chasselas, it provides a neutral canvas for the winemaker’s art and terroir. Originating in the Loire valley of France, it has no relation or similarity to Pinot blanc.

Gewürztraminer

The name Gewürztraminer is obviously German, although the origin of the grape is the Tyrollean Alps, near the village of Termeno (Tramin) in Alto Adige, Italy. Gewürz is German for spice. The vine is evidently a pain in the ass to grow and does best in cooler climates. In Germany the wine of this grape is often made off-dry, in Alsace it’s dry and floral, and in Switzerland it produces a wide range. Gewürztraminer is one of the most pungent wine varietals and reasonably easy to identify with just your nose. It is one of the few wine that can hold its own with spicy Asian food.

Gamay

This is the variety that produces all the Beaujolais wines. Later-ripening than Pinot Noir, Gamay is very widespread in the western, French-speaking part of Switzerland. But it is in Geneva that it has become the dominant red variety. Produced as a varietal in Geneva or blended with Pinot Noir in Vaud (Salvagnin) and Valais (Dôle), Gamay produces lively, light wines with vivacious aromas of freshly picked red fruits. These wines are best consumed young

Age appears to be best in four things--old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

L. Bacon

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