Switzerland


Switzerland


 

I

n Switzerland there is both quality and diversity, if at a price – this being the price the local market supports. Now producing slightly more red wine than white, well-established viticultural areas include the Vaud, Valais and Ticino but wine is also made around Geneva, in Neuchâtel and in the north-east. In fact it is the latter that has produced some of Switzerland finest wines. The Pinots from Daniel & Martha Gantenbein stand comparison with top German examples. Jean-René Germanier sets the standard for the mostly French-speaking Valais where the mountain valley viticulture is made possible by the presence of the Rhône. Here, hundreds of miles from its more famous associations in France, vines flank a roughly south-western stretch of the river before it turns and runs north-west towards Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). Successful local varieties include Fendant for firm dry whites, Humagne and the increasingly fashionable Cornalin for characterful reds. Dôle is from Gamay and Pinot Noir; the latter can be impressive varietally too.
In the Vaud, spectacular vineyards arc on steep terraces above Lac Léman in the region of Lavaux where Chasselas is king. The best from well-established ACs such as Dézaley, Saint-Saphorin and Epesses display minerality and tension. Most, however, are more humdrum. Other regions within the Vaud include Chablais, east of Lac Léman in the Rhône valley (Aigle and Yvorne are leading communes) and La Côte, running west of Lausanne towards Geneva. In French speaking Neuchâtel the vineyards, planted almost entirely to Chasselas and Pinot Noir, extend along the northern shore of Lac Neuchâtel as far as Lac Bienne. Ticino, the Italian bit of Switzerland, has focused almost exclusively on Merlot. They have a good local reputation but are plagued by variability both from grower to grower and year to year. Christian Zündel is the quality leader but several others (Daniele Huber, Luigi Zanini) have made ripe, lushly-textured examples that are true to the variety. The two Cabernets often contribute to blends and there are also very small amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (Zanini’s is the stand-out white).

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The following wine producers have a full profile in Wine behind the label:

A to Z of producers by appellation

Dom. Louis Bovard (Vaud)
Thierry Constantin (Sion)
Donatsch (Graubünden)
Jean-René Germanier (Valais)

 

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