Tucked in the southeast corner of Switzerland is Graubünden (or Grisons), and in the north of that canton, tucked between Bonaduz and Fläsch, is the Bündner Herrschaft, Graubündens main wine area. Thanks to its geographic situation and the Föhn, it produces some of the best red wines in German-speaking Switzerland, and its specialty is the Blauburgunder (Pinot noir). Although over 80% of the wine from Graubünden is red, they also produce some fine white wines, including a bit of sweet Freisamer wine.
Blauburgunder, did I hear you ask? Why you ask, is Schaffhausen’s nickname of Blauburgunderland? Well, because Blauburgunder - or Pinot noir for the rest of us - is by far the dominant wine grape in Schaffhausen.
Red wine makes up nearly 70% of wine production in Schaffhausen, and most of that is Pinot noir, some of which finds itself in a very nice late-harvest wine. There is also Cabernet Sauvignon, Diolinoir, Garanoir, Merlot, and Regent; not to mention Dorenoir, which is a blend of Pinot noir, Regent (itself a cross), and Dornfelder.
A classic red grape variety transplanted from the Côtes-du-Rhône area, Syrah is still somewhat of a rarity here and is grown mainly in Valais and on well-exposed slopes. It produces a spicy, deeply colored, elegant tannic wine that ages well. Some Swiss Syrah wines have been winning international awards for in recent years.
Regent is a very practical red grape. It matures early, is resistant to disease, needs little protection, and makes a decent wine. Cool.
Genetic studies have revealed that Pinot Noir is probably one of the two ancestors (the other being the humble Gouais) of some of the most important vines cultivated in Europe today. It is certainly a particularly ancient variety, and originally from Burgundy. Pinot Noir, with its associated clones, is found all over Switzerland, but it is only in the eastern region that it dominates production. It is either produced as a varietal or blended with other grapes. These blends are known as Salvagnin in Vaud and Dôle in Valais.
Imported from the Bordeaux region, Merlot has found a second home in Ticino where it performs extremely well. Later-ripening than the other main Swiss varieties, it is hardly present in other areas. Merlot red wines are racy, tannic, and richly colored. A white wine from this black grape, commercialized as Merlot Bianco, gives quite interesting results and is increasingly popular with producers and consumers alike.
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.
A new variety, Diolinoir was developed in 1970 at Pully (Vaud). When grown in favorable locations in Valais, it gives a fine, robust wine, rich in color and with good tannin content. It is a cross between Diolly and Pinot Noir.
An ancient and indigenous alpine variety found only in Valais, Cornalin gives a wine that is fruity with a fine; bouquet and intense purple-red color. The slightly rustic hint makes it a good companion for game dishes.