At the Digital Wine Communication Conference in Montreaux, Switzerlands I experienced my first taste of Swiss Wines. My first sip came from a glass of Chasselas, the iconic Swiss white wine that dominates the country’s production. To be perfectly honest I have to admit that I was not that impressed.
Then things changed….
Day two of the conference was busy with great seminars and amazing networking possibilities but the day was crowned with two spectacular tastings. The first, featuring six reds and six whites, was led by Jancis Robinson and her Wine Grapes co-author Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. (Pausing here for another geek out moment and a mental note. While note as widely known in the United States, Jancis Robinson is a prolific and influential personality in the world of wine. Now the mental note: start saving for a copy of the book.) The second was a free-style walk around featuring 40 different Swiss wine producers.
With 26 cantons and 4 official languages, Switzerland is a complicated country. But that is nothing compared to the Swiss wine world. With over 200 varietals, largely indigenous, understanding Swiss wines is an experience of epic proportions. Made all the more complicated by the fact that less than 2% of their total wine production are exported out of the country. And then further complicated by the canton/appellation of Vaud which received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2007. As such, this important wine region is severely limited in the changes they are allowed to make in their vineyards.
Yet the wine is well worth the effort.
Chasselas. Pinot Noir. Merlot. Petit Arvine. Syrah. Completor. The list of grapes is endless and the production styles just as diverse. Now I understand their appeal and have to wonder why more of these fabulous and intriguing wines are not available internationally.