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Old 02.11.2006, 20:02
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The Best Swiss Wines

Contary to my expectations, I have discovered that whether through blind luck, or hard work, experience and then luck, the Swiss can make some very nice wines. So, I thought it might be nice to start a thread on this very subject.

My favourite so far is from Waills. It's a red, called Lucifer. VERY nice indeedy. A very interesting rival indeed to yor new worldy Shiraz. Of course it costs 30% more for half the volume.......

Any more suggestions out there?
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Old 02.11.2006, 20:26
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
Contary to my expectations, I have discovered that whether through blind luck, or hard work, experience and then luck, the Swiss can make some very nice wines. So, I thought it might be nice to start a thread on this very subject.

My favourite so far is from Waills. It's a red, called Lucifer. VERY nice indeedy. A very interesting rival indeed to yor new worldy Shiraz. Of course it costs 30% more for half the volume.......

Any more suggestions out there?
Thanks for posting this, because I agree completely. Although Swiss Wine has a relatively poor reputation due to some really poor production in the past, it has turned around recently and there are some very nice wines to try...with some very unusual grape varieties. If you would like to find out a bit more about Swiss Wine, we have started to include information on our web site at this link: about swiss wine - the information is not 100% complete...but it is free!

By the way...if you would like to try some really nice sweet wines, then be sure to search out the ones from Wallis. Another good tip for a sweet wine is the Eiswein 2005 from Staatskellerei (Canton Zürich)....Available at Mövenpick for 39 CHF (1/2 bottle)...Expensive...but well worth the effort (tip is from my wife who is teaching a variety of courses in sweet wine, fortified wines, swiss wines, etc...and we are totally independent - meaning we don't sell wine!)...

Jack
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Old 02.11.2006, 20:35
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Actually I have found some wine closer to home.
The Raperswil Rosenburger I found goes down quite well, I am slowly working my way up the Gold coast towards Zürich at the moment im at Stäfa and havent rearly been disapointed.

DC
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Old 02.11.2006, 20:55
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

I'm biased because I have winemaking friends in Malans, Graubunden. I find that their wines are great and seem to benefit from a lack of additives. They produce Chardonnay, Riesling Silvaner and the regional speciality Malanser Blauburgunder (Pinot Noir). Their wines dont make it out of the area, going directly to restuarants and locals.

Nothing like drinking the wine made from the grapes you helped harvest

There are some horrible Swiss wines for sale at Denner and Coop, but also some great ones which are made almost in cottage industry, though this makes them hard to discover.

Some Swiss wines are listed Caduff's webpage, and should be a trustworthy lead:
http://www.wineloft.ch/pdf/weinliste2005.pdf
http://www.wineloft.ch
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Old 02.11.2006, 21:35
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Jack, I've been told by a few people that there are some good Swiss wines, but since the Swiss often like to buy their own products for reasons of patriotism that the prices of these wines gets pushed up to the point where they may represent a poor value proposition compared to wines of similiar quality from other countries.

Is this statement true, partially true or complete bollocks? I'm sure Richard will also be along to answer this one
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Old 03.11.2006, 06:53
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
Jack, I've been told by a few people that there are some good Swiss wines, but since the Swiss often like to buy their own products for reasons of patriotism that the prices of these wines gets pushed up to the point where they may represent a poor value proposition compared to wines of similiar quality from other countries.

Is this statement true, partially true or complete bollocks? I'm sure Richard will also be along to answer this one
Mark,

There is some degree of truth to this statement in part because taste is mostly culturally determined than genetically determined. However, that only accounts for a small reason why Swiss wines are expensive. Good quality Swiss wines are produced in relatively small quantities - usually only enough for consumption within the region or perhaps the country (good Swiss wines are exported in only very small numbers). Because the supply is small, and the demand relatively large for these wines the price is pushed upwards.

On top of that, and perhaps more importantly is the cost of production. Many Swiss wines are produced in some challenging locations which prohibit mechanization. This lack of mechanization means the grapes must be tended to by hand. In a steep vineyard (think of areas around Lake Geneva, Wallis, or even in the Zürich area), working one hectare can require up to 1,400 hours of work during a single year. In comparison, a fully mechanized vineyard, such as some of the large Australian vineyards, may only require 70 hours annually to work a single hectare. Because of the high costs of labor and equipment in Switzerland, it is no wonder the average costs for Swiss wines are much higher than many of the ‘new world’ wines which are flooding the market.

You can find out more about the history, climate conditions, growing conditions, etc at the link I gave in the earlier post... We will be adding information about each region in the near future, which will hopefully point you in the right direction to discover Swiss wines, or at least understand them a bit more...

Jack
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Old 03.11.2006, 07:36
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
On top of that, and perhaps more importantly is the cost of production. Many Swiss wines are produced in some challenging locations which prohibit mechanization. This lack of mechanization means the grapes must be tended to by hand. In a steep vineyard (think of areas around Lake Geneva, Wallis, or even in the Zürich area), working one hectare can require up to 1,400 hours of work during a single year. In comparison, a fully mechanized vineyard, such as some of the large Australian vineyards, may only require 70 hours annually to work a single hectare. Because of the high costs of labor and equipment in Switzerland, it is no wonder the average costs for Swiss wines are much higher than many of the ‘new world’ wines which are flooding the market.
In the Lavaux wine-growing region on Lake Geneva, which I frequenlty bike through, I saw an amazing piece of mechanization in the steep vineyards. After the grapes had been picked by hand, they used a helicopter to lift the baskets out of the vineyards and take them to the road where a truck was waiting for them. The fact that they were able to justify the use of a helicopter for this purpose answered all of my questions as to why Swiss wines cost a little more than usual. I believe this was in the Dézaley region, which is known for having the best wines in the Lavaux area. Here is a picture of one of the steepest sections that they cultivate in Lavaux:

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Old 03.11.2006, 08:55
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Now, I´m a wine lover (may not an expert) and my motto is that any wine that tastes good is a quality wine I keep surprising my friends with decent bottles of Swiss wine whenever I visit them back home. To me it looks like Swiss wine is a well kept secret and also hard to come by outside of Switzerland.
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Old 03.11.2006, 10:06
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

I know a couple who run a family (5th generation) vineyard in Uerikon, near Stäfa, who produce a variety of jolly good wine, several available on the *best* winelists in the country. A particular favourite of mine is their Pinot Perle, a better drink than many famous champagnes.

http://www.weingut-ruetihof.ch/
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Old 03.11.2006, 11:00
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
Jack, I've been told by a few people that there are some good Swiss wines, but since the Swiss often like to buy their own products for reasons of patriotism that the prices of these wines gets pushed up to the point where they may represent a poor value proposition compared to wines of similiar quality from other countries.

Is this statement true, partially true or complete bollocks? I'm sure Richard will also be along to answer this one
Coming from that part of Aargau supposedly famed for its wine, and yes I have had I must say a couple of most pleasant wines, I have to say that the complete reluctance of the Swiss to invest in technology and the willingness to pay the local population SFr. 25 per hour to pick and tend the grapes pushes the price out of reason for what it is. It is a complete myth that the grapes *must* be picked by hand and I have witnessed how modern technology can overcome this problem with a little investment - almost certainly less than a helicopter...

It is fair to say that there are some decent whites and sweet wines out there the latter of which is competitive in price. As for reds you might as well fill out the lottery as that is the chance of getting a good one - although again they do exist albeit for SFr. 40 and more...

So having made all these statements I shall again being trying to disprove all of them on the ships in the next 10 days or so
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Old 03.11.2006, 11:06
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

I should remind people that expovina http://www.expovina.ch/ is now on. I cannot read German, however it appears that one can taste a few wines on any of 12 ships full of booze for the next 2 weeks.

Fortunately I was able to get this crystal clear translation from Babelfish:
  • of 12 ships with an exhibition surface by 3'200 m²
  • of 165 booths with 4'000 wines, those to the EXPOVINA beginning in 150'000 bottles to be delivered
  • 500'000 of weinglaeser to last the EXPOVINA washed off
  • 30'000'000 Franconia amounts to the estimated conversion, which the exhibitors obtain during the EXPOVINA. 1953 took place first EXPOVINA. Those so far 48 exhibitions were added 2 years long opened and tightened against 3 million visitors and visitors
So I figure the wife and I will do some tasting this weekend.
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Old 03.11.2006, 12:02
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Link to a thread we had about the wine ships over in the events and activities section.
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Old 03.11.2006, 14:18
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

According to my father-in-law, the best Swiss wines can be found in Valais...specifically in Chamoson. Here is a list of the "caves" in chamoson:http://http://www.chamoson.ch/vignes/index.php?Code=2.
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Old 10.11.2006, 21:08
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Two wine-related stories from Switzerland:

First, while my parents were visting this summer, they visited a vineyard in Mont-sur-Rolle in the "La Cote" wine region along Lake Geneva. My parents liked their wines and so bought a couple of cases to take back to the UK. They gave a bottle to the owners of the local wine merchants who they know very well, and the wine merchant liked it so much that they are now in negotiations to become their main importer for the UK. So this means that if you're looking for a good bottle then you can't go wrong with something from "Le Cellier du Mas", and it also means that they are beginning to have an export market for Swiss wines.

Second story: This week I received a phone call from a lady speaking French, I explained that I couldn't speak French well enough to understand her, so she got her colleague who tried to explain it to me in English. It turns out that they were do telephone advertising for wine! Apparently they had some lovely Bordeaux wine for sale of the 2003 vintage, which I was told was a very sunny year. I could buy it for just 16 CHF per bottle instead of the usual 23 CHF if I bought at least a case, and that included delivery. Apparently, they were trying to sell it because some restaurant was going out of business (I didn't quite understand that part). I declined the offer, but was frankly amazed that they were trying to sell wine in this way, and I decided that this would probably only happen in Switzerland - a country that is full of odd surprises .
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Old 10.11.2006, 21:31
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Hi

I'm relatively new to Switzerland but having done a wine tasting course back in Blighty I was told that the Swiss do produce some good wines. However I was also told that the good ones rarely leave the country on account of the limited quantities produced.

Hasten to add I'm not a wine snob, but will definitely be looking out or a few of these. Not keen to be buying cases of the stuff (unless I find a really good one). If not the Coop or Denners what are the alternatives?

Cheers
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Old 10.01.2007, 01:51
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Jack,

Just read your site on wine and food, and it is great! I much enjoyed the background info on Swiss wines. If anyone is interested in learning about Swiss wines, go to his site. http://www.laughinglemon.ch/wine/swiss_wines.htm

Jack, I am looking for a Swiss wine with high reservatrol. I know the wines with the highest concentrations are pinot noirs that are stressed, in terms of growing in a humid climate, and cold and humid is even better. Now from your site I tried to find out which Swiss Pinot Noirs would qualify.

Any ideas about the Neuchatel region perhaps? My house is surrounded by vineyards and there are two cellars nearby, but perhaps the Neuchatel valley is not cold and wet enough? Any ideas perhaps on which Swiss Pinots to try? Oh, I am also interested in which years were particularly stressful in terms of a wet and/or cold season in CH.

Lastly, one finds the most reservatrol in wines which do not have the tannins filtered out. Do the Swiss filter the wines to make them less bitter?

Last edited by muze7; 10.01.2007 at 02:01.
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Old 10.01.2007, 08:44
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

getting a bit miffed :-D :-D no one has mentioned the Seeland region as producers of really good wines! No joking aside,the region around the Biel-Neuchâtel and Murten lakes are very renowned for their wines.

recommenadable are:

Generally all wines from the MONT VULLY region, red and white
Johanniter ( note not JOHANNISBERG!!) from Martin Hubacher ,white
Chardonnay and Oeil-de Perdrix from Vera and Willy Tiersbier,white and rosé
All wines from Trüelkeller, Mürset Martin ( red,whites and even a cava)

The region around lake Neuchâtel is renowned for the Oeil de Perdrix wine, that's a rosé wine made from Pinot Noir grapes and can be bought in various degrees of 'sourness' so it takes a little tasting to find the that suits your palate the most.This wine can be drunk to almost all dishes.

http://www.bielerseewein.ch/index.asp

Recommendable at the moment is to go and have a TREBERWURST at one of the vintners cellars,this is a sausage saucisson style ( made from pork meat and very fatty) thats steamed over the the pot where they distill the Marc (swiss grappa), it's served with potato and green salad or potato au gratin.This custom originated in vintners cellars around the lake of Biel but has now been 'exported' to the lake of Zurich areas as well......
This is also a very good way to taste all the produce of the vintners cellar where you'll enjoy this dish.
As it's so fatty we usually wash it down with big helpings of Marc or Lie/Drusen

I allow myself to post an excerpt of an article i've written on this topic to give u better insight
**
During wintertime, while the vines are recovering from their production of juicy grapes, the vintners are far of having a holiday too!
January to March is the season of the TREBERWURST around the Bielersee.
Traditionally in winter the vines would be cut back and MARC (Swiss Grappa) would be distilled in a Brennkeller (distillers cave). What better place can one find (than a Brennkeller) to warm up frozen hands and feet. One day, more than 100 years ago, an ingenious mind must have had the idea to cook sausages in the steam coming out off the distiller’s pots. Thus the Treberwurst was born. The word Treberwurst is derived from the High German * Trester *, (or Treber in the Bernese dialect) and comes from the grape pulp remnants after the grapes have been pressed for wine. From the Treber, GRAPPA is distilled. In Switzerland, we call this special GRAPPA….......... MARC.

Another schnapps speciality, also distilled during the winter, is DRUSEN or *eau de lie*. This schnapps is made from the yeasty sediment of grape juice.

Many vintners around the Bielersee open their Carnotzet (wine cellar) to the public and serve these specialities.
The sausage is a somewhat fatty, saucisson-style made of pork meat. It is usually served with potatoes au gratin or potato salad. During these special meals, one usually gets the chance to taste the vintners own wines produced during the year. Finally, Marc or Drusen is served, naturally for ‘medicinal purposes’ to help with the digestion of the fatty sausages. For the locals a “designated driver” who DOES NOT drink anything alcoholic is part of these special evenings or you go to the caves by train or bus.

For those interested in trying an evening out… I recommend making a reservation very early, because people come from all over Switzerland to sample these delicacies. Especially the renowned Wine cellars tend to be booked out very quickly because the season is so short. Vintners in other regions of Switzerland have picked up this custom as well, but the best Treberwurst comes from the region around the BIELERSEE!!
If you would like to come and try these specialities, the website below lists all vintners offering this meal for the 2007 season in their wine cellars.
**


Oh and 'Lucifer', is a pinot noir and a very yummy wine to drink
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Old 12.01.2007, 09:37
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
Jack,

Just read your site on wine and food, and it is great! I much enjoyed the background info on Swiss wines. If anyone is interested in learning about Swiss wines, go to his site. http://www.laughinglemon.ch/wine/swiss_wines.htm

Jack, I am looking for a Swiss wine with high reservatrol. I know the wines with the highest concentrations are pinot noirs that are stressed, in terms of growing in a humid climate, and cold and humid is even better. Now from your site I tried to find out which Swiss Pinot Noirs would qualify.

Any ideas about the Neuchatel region perhaps? My house is surrounded by vineyards and there are two cellars nearby, but perhaps the Neuchatel valley is not cold and wet enough? Any ideas perhaps on which Swiss Pinots to try? Oh, I am also interested in which years were particularly stressful in terms of a wet and/or cold season in CH.

Lastly, one finds the most reservatrol in wines which do not have the tannins filtered out. Do the Swiss filter the wines to make them less bitter?
Muze7… Thank you very much for the glowing review! Parts of the section you referred to are not 100% complete, but we are working on it! I should also stress that all of the information in the Swiss wine section is written by my wife and business partner, as is the answer below concerning resveratrol (about Silvia).

For those who do not know, resveratrol belongs to the phenolic compound like tannins. They develop on vines and grapes as a defense mechanism against fungal disease attacks (more precisely…a phytoalexim, or natural response to bacteria and fungus). Thus, when a fungal attack occurs on grapes, resveratrol begins to quickly develop at the spot of the attack. However, the fungus has its own defense against resveratrol, which enables the fungus to continue developing. Amazingly, the grape vines know this plan well, and they have their own ace up the sleeve and combat the fungus defenses with an enzyme (nature’s own chemical war). More on the benefits of resveratrol.

In grapes, resveratrol only develops when the weather conditions also favor fungal diseases – that would be in cool climates with wet weather conditions. In average wine years with above average wet conditions, fungal attacks are more prevalent and larger amounts of resveratrol develops. But…it is a mistake to assume off years are better for higher levels of resveratrol. Most winemakers want to make a decent product to sell, and they know all about the dangers of fungal development during wet conditions. Thus, the winemaker will increase their use of fungicides or take other measures to prevent the grapes from getting too wet and exposed to fungal attacks. Thus, an average year or vintage does not necessarily mean an average or bad wine. Vintage ratings are mostly a general point of view. Wines are greatly dependent on the winemakers and how they manage the vineyard, production and cellar in every condition. As a general guideline, you can use off-years for vintages to get an idea of resveratrol in wines. In Switzerland, overly wet weather conditions for fungal attacks occurred in 98/99/01/02/04.

In your area, the hills around Neuchatel facing the lakes are well-ventilated and have a rather sunny and dry climate. These vineyards are well protected from the cool north winds. The average rainfall in the area is around 980mm. Fungal attacks do occur in Neuchatel during excessive rainy periods or times of fog and heavy mist during the fall. In terms of which wines from your area to try….well, see the bottom line.

There is a difference between filtration of wines and fining. Filtration removes solid substances from the wine, and fining is a clarification of the wine to prevent haze and to get rid of too many (or too harsh) tannins. The process of removing some tannins can make a wine more balanced and smoother, but not necessarily better as this process also removes flavor. Bitterness in wines comes mostly from unripe grapes, which gives you a clue on how the winemaker works. Most winemakers use both fining and filtration methods before bottling. If the wine is not filtered, then that information will appear on the label (wines will also be significantly more cloudy).

Bottom line: enjoy good, well-made Pinot Noirs from good producers (they use the least treatment methods in the cellar) to obtain the most resveratrol.
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Old 12.01.2007, 14:36
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Thanks, Jack and Silvia! That looks like another great article! Thanks for explaining the microclimate, and the info on filtration versus fining.

In the meantime I found an article that includes tests of resveratrol in a few Swiss wines: "Preliminary Results on Contents of Resveratrol in Wine of Organic and Conventional Vineyards" http://orgprints.org/9107/01/l%C3%A9...necongress.pdf.


Whereas white wines have rougly 1ppm (one mg/kg), Neuchatel Pinot noirs have ~13 ppm, but interestingly, the Gamay grape wines have 23-37 ppm! This is a lot, even in international perspective (e.g., compared to Pinot Noirs from cold, damp Upstate New York). Second, organic Gamay's had much more than non-organic (33 vs 24 ppm). So these make for some healthy wines, now I need to see if they taste nice . (The reason white wines have little resveratrol is that the substance is contained largely in the skin and white wines do not have enough skin exposure during wine production).
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Old 21.01.2007, 07:34
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Re: The Best Swiss Wines

Quote:
Now, I´m a wine lover (may not an expert) and my motto is that any wine that tastes good is a quality wine I keep surprising my friends with decent bottles of Swiss wine whenever I visit them back home. To me it looks like Swiss wine is a well kept secret and also hard to come by outside of Switzerland.
Hard to come by outside Switzerland because there isn't enough of it for distribution outside Switzerland.

I used to be a fan of red wine and I have become one again, after trying a few Swiss red wines on sale at my large Coop on Martplatz, Basel. You are, of course, wasting your time with the cheaper red wines (even for cooking). I liked the "Dôle des Monts" and that seems to be the starting price for a quality red. The slightly cheaper Hurlevent fell below my expectations. The more expensive and unimpressively named "Rouge de Terre" was far better than the "Dôle des Monts". I am looking forward to trying more.

It sort of explains why the beer is so poor in Switzerland. I have found so far that good beer and good wine from a region are mutually exclusive.
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