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.
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.
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