Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, is a gray mold that infects a variety of plants, including wine grapes here in Switzerland. When it forms on grapes it's called Botrytis Bunch Rot. In contrast to its unpleasant appearance, its effect on wine grapes can be quite pleasant. In short, the Botrytis cinerea fungus pierces grape skins causing dehydration, which concentrates the sugar in the remaining juice. The resulting sweet wine can be exquisite.
A very old small berry Valais grape, difficult to cultivate. It is an aromatic specialty limited almost exclusively to Valais. Some clone or mutation of the Muscat is grown on almost every continent.
One of the classic grapes of France, Sauvignon blanc is planted in most wine regions of the world. It produces a wide range of wine styles.
Gwäss is the Germanized name of Gouais blanc.
In contrast to its native France where it wasn’t too successful as a wine grape, the Chasselas shines in Switzerland. Basically neutral in character, it reflects the nuances of the terroirs where it’s grown. Chasselas may be one of the first grape varieties ever cultivated and is one of, if not the dominant wine grapes grown in Switzerland.
A vigorous and adaptable vine from Burgundy, Chardonnay grows pretty much everywhere that wine is made. Although production is not so high in Switzerland, award-winning wines have come out of Geneva, Valais, and Neuchâtel.
An old vine, but you won’t find it for sale anymore. However, it’s being experimented with by Jean Nicollier (I’m searching for more references). The Bernarda is a Prié blanc from the Val d’Aosta that may have come into Switzerland over the St. Bernhard pass, and hence the name.
Another delivery from Rome, there are actually three Arvine grape varieties, only two used for wine production: Grand Arvine, with the larger berries, and Petit Arvine, with the, you guessed it, smaller berries.
Grand Arvine gets criticized for displaying little character, whereas the Petit Arvine tends to have a fuller bouquet and lower acidity] In a blind tasting, Petit Arvine generally kicks ass against its plumper brother. The unloved Arvine Brune has faded from the scene.
Arvine is also an excellent grape for late harvest wine, which can be cellared.
Aligoté, a crossing of Pinot noir and Gouais blanc, originates from Burgundy and spread throughout France. It’s cold tolerant and ripens early, but is susceptible to fungal disease.
Called “Plant du Rhin” when it was brought to Geneva in the early 1900s, it is now something of a specialty in Geneva giving us an acidic, refreshing wine. It can be drunk young.
When blended, Aligoté adds acidity and structure to a wine.