Swiss Wine Regions

Swiss Wine Vintage 2010

Grape leaves in the sun

Early opinion of the 2009 Swiss wine vintage was “promising”, but by the end of the year the federal agriculture department near Nyon officially declared it as “excellent” for both quality and quantity.

For most of Switzerland the weather played nice. The early budding in spring, helped by a hot and dry June, led to quick flowering. A dry late summer and early fall helped the grapes mature well, and the weather stayed friendly for the harvest.

There were some problem patches: for example a 15-minute hail storm in July in the La Côte region damaged some vine parcels. But generally the good season made up for it, with the nearly 15,000 hectares of vines in Switzerland yielding 1.1 million hectoliters, 35,000 more than the previous year.

The Wine Grapes of Switzerland

Sémillon

Hard to believe that Sémillon’s main claim to fame is its propensity to rot, but because of its soft skin Sémillon is prone to Botrytis cinerea (a.k.a. “noble rot”). The “rot” concentrates the acid and sugar in the grape, and the resulting wine can be complex, rich, sweet, and aromatic. In short: pretty damn nice. The best known of this sweet style wine is Sauternes, coming from the Sauternais region of the Graves, near Bordeaux in France.

Sémillon can also make an elegant dry white wine, but since it can be short on acidity, it is often vinified with Sauvignon blanc.

Garanoir

A new variety (Gamay x Reichensteiner), developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud), Garanoir ripens early. Can give interesting blends with Gamay, Gamaret or sometimes Pinot Noir.

Freisamer

The Freisamer plays more of a role in Graubünden but has a small presence in a few other cantons. It’s a hybrid of Silvaner x Pinot gris, developed in Freiburg in the Breisgau region. A temperamental grape that puts great demands on the type of soil and location—do I hear you say “terroir”?—it’s been trying to make a name for itself since the sixties but hasn’t really taken off.

A remedy for the moroseness of old age.

Plato

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