The Swiss have been making and consuming wine since the dawn of wine-time, but you would be hard pressed to find a Swiss wine on any wine list from a restaurant that doesn’t have waiters in lederhosen or specialize in cheese fondue. Swiss whites are born of grapes like Chasselas, Sylvaner, Petite Arvine and of course that little known grape… Chardonnay. Reds are more familiar, Pinot Noir and Gamay even some Merlot grow alongside local specialties like Humagne Rouge and Cornalin.
I have a few reviews and wine and music matches of a number of Swiss wines, white and red, coming up, but here are some general observations of the wines I tried at a Swiss wine show presented in Montreal in September of 2012.
My Swiss Wine guide was the cordial and knowledgeable Jean-Marc Amez Droz. He let me know that the wineries at the show were mostly from the south western part of Switzerland, and consequently some of the more German inspired wines of Switzerland were not on display. In general he pointed out that wood barrels are rarities in Switzerland, which has an effect on style. And in very general terms Swiss consumers and winemakers lean towards wines that are less manipulated, more about the fruit. From the small sample size of Pinot Noirs I tried, I pointed out that there was a theme to the scents. I found a common thread of moist tree bark, like the mulch you buy at a gardening and landscaping store. In the mouth those Pinots flashed ripe fruit… without any interference.
I tried lots of new (to me) Swiss wines and I quite liked the white Petite Arvine, a white hybrid grape called Doral. The Chardonnay’s and Pinot Noirs took interesting directions and had me searching out methode traditionel sparkling wine, alas none was available. I will have to keep looking!
Stay tuned for my Swiss themed #wineandmusic matches over the next couple of weeks. No yodelling, I promise!