Day 2: The Grand Tasting

Jancis Robinson. I got to attend a Swiss Wine Tasting led by Jancis Robinson and her Wine Grapes co-author Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Squee…. ok wine geek moment over, let’s talk about the wines of Swizterland and the tasting.

Ok, rather than talk about the nitty gritty details of wine production in Switzerland, I’m going to refer to you this post and skip ahead to the good details.

The tasting began with two flights, each containing three white wines. The first featured the Iconic Swiss White Chasselas. Constituting the majority of the total Swiss Wine production, the first mention of this grape in Swizerland dates to 1716. While also used as a table grape for eating, this intriguing varietal produces engaging white wines. What we tasted:

  • Domaine Blaise Duboux – Epsesse, Cuvée Vincent Calamin, Grand Cru 2012. From the Lavaux appellation this wine is slightly reserved on the nose but delivers a subtle almost smoky character. With sharp acidity there was a touch of honey on the palate.
  • Chateau Maison Blanche – Yvorne, Grand Crus 2010. From the Chablais appellation is wine was also reserved on the nose but was very bold on the palate. Notes of Hawthorne are underlined with a slight saltiness.
  • Domaine la Colombe-Féchy, Raymond Paccot, Le Brez 2005. Also from Lavaux, specifically Fechy, this wine was green on the nose with notes of wet wool and a hint of salinity.

The second white flight featured another indigenous Swiss grape: Arvine or Petit Arvine, as it is sometimes called. First mentioned in the historical Swiss record in 1602 this is considered an orphan variety, meaning scientists have been unable to discover its origins. A specialty of the Valais appellation, this was my favorite of the two whites. What we tasted:

  • L’Orpailleur- Uvrier, Frederic Dumoulin, 2013. Very pale in color the nose delivered hints of grapefruit like citrus and maybe a slight hint of tank taint. Beautiful acidity highlighted a smooth and lingering finish with a hint of butter.
  • Provins Valais, Maitre de  Chais 2005. With a dark lemon color this wine also had a buttery note. With slight oxidative hints it also seemed slightly off-dry. But again notes of citrusy acidity highlighted a very smooth almost oily finish.
  • Domaines Rouvinez – Sierre, Chateau Lichten 2002. A single vineyard designate this wine also delivered grapefruit notes. Thinner on the palate than the nose would suggest it was nevertheless tight with surprising acidic tartness and buttery notes.

We then moved on to the red wines. The first tasting was of the international variety Pinot Noir. According to Dr. Vouillamoz there is ‘no aging of Pinots except from Burgundy,’ and as such these were all younger vintages with a mixture of production style. What we tasted:

  • La Maison Carée – Auvernier, J.P. et Ch. Perrochet, 2010. From the Neuchatel appellation this Pinot was produced in a stainless steel vat. Surprisingly reminiscent of smoked meats, the pale robe yielded a wine that was surprisingly fruity. Notes of red fruit and a good acidic structure made the wine almost sharp on the palate.
  • Peter Wegelin – Malans, Malanser Blauburgunder, Reserva 2011. Aged in oak in the Gaubüden appellation, the nose clearly demonstrated the oak character. Light and balanced the oak carried over onto the palate but was highlighted by red fruit.
  • Cave des Champs – Miege, Claudy Clavien, La Part des Anges, Fut de Chene 2012. Other barrel aged Pinot from the Valais appellation, this wine had a bold color but was surprisingly pale on the rim. Slight smoke character yielded a wine that was smooth and highly acidic. Cherry, vanilla, and licorice or even clove notes will ensure this wine is interesting with a year or two of age.

The final red wine tasting featured another international grape variety: Merlot. Typically not a favorite, these wines were nonetheless interesting. What we tasted:

  • Kopp von der Crone Visini, Barbengo, Balin 2009. From the appellation of Tessin this wine had a bold, yet not heavy, nose with hints of oak, smoke, dried fruit. Spicy and balance on the palate the wine was very smooth without being overripe, highlighting the simplicty of the winemaking.
  • Casa Vinicola Gialdi – Mendrisio, Merlo Sassi Grossi 2010. Also from Tessi this wine was reserved on the nose. Very young this wine was almost grainy with tannins and stringent acidity.
  • Domaine Grand’Cour – Peissy, Jean-Pierre Pellegrin, 2011. From the Geneva appellation this Merlot was very deep in color. However the wine was young with ripe fruit notes and sweet spice as well as crisp acidity.

A note about tasting notes: due to the hurried nature of the tasting my notes might be slightly reflective of those provided by J.R. She was often presenting her notes just as I was receiving the wines and beginning my own tasting. I tried to keep my notes as true to my personal opinions as possible but there may be some transference.

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