Swiss wines

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by David Pope, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. I was in Geneva for a few days this week, for an extremely long-drawn out and tedious meeting. I just had time to pop to the local branch of Lavinia, where I bought two bottles of wine made from Swiss varieties.

    I bought a white made from Fendant, which as a variety I don't recall having before. This is Domaine de Beudon 2004, from Valais. The other is l'Absolm 2016, from Domaine des Curiades/Dupraz & Fils in Coteau de Lully. It is a blend of Gamaret (80%) and Gamay (20%).

    Is anyone familiar with these? I know little about Swiss wines and they attract little attention here. I had one or two others over dinner - a couple of pinot noirs and something else - and thought they were OK. They don't exactly give wine away in Geneva, though.

    Are there any good reference books on Swiss wines?
  2. The Fendant is Chasselas, just under a local name. They come in a range of styles from light and fresh to a bit richer and more fondue-friendly. I’d guess given the age it’s more likely to be the latter than former. I don’t know the second one.
  3. Ps, agreed, not cheap, but if you find yourself there again, seek out a larger CoOp — they tend to have a decent selection at sensible prices.
  4. I always visit the Coop when in Basle, mothers birthplace.
    Adrian Wood likes this.
  5. Simon naturally beat me to it, but Fendant is indeed Chasselas going under its synonym in the Valais (very occasionally used in Southern Vaud too). I have actually had wines from this producer but not Fendant that old. It can age but I do tend to prefer it young(er).

    Domaine de Beudon is a brilliant choice in theory. The owner, Jacky Granges, is a real maverick. The vines are at about 1,200 metres. Never been myself but the wines are usually among the best in the region.

    The wines are actually imported into the U.K. occasionally by Dynamic Vines in Bermondsey (whose on site shop is usually open Saturday morning). I checked and the oldest Beudon wine they list is a 2007.

    I’ve also visited Les Capriades, one of the top handful of estates in the Geneva Region (of which Lully is one of the demarcated villages, like a village AOP in Burgundy). Gamaret is a common crossing in the region (I think Gamay x Reichensteiner but don’t quote me). Should be a relative easy drinker.

    If I knew of a book on Swiss wines I’d buy it, but sadly I don’t, or not one in English. If anyone knows of one, please shout.

    Alpine Wines (mail order/online, based in Yorkshire) is a good source for Swiss wines, though I find their web site a pain to navigate (you can easily miss stuff). Never cheap, the wines are always worth trying at the top level, and often at the cheaper end too.

    I wrote an overview of Swiss wine back in Feb 2015 in which I note that I recommended the Beudon Humagne Rouge among a handful of Valais wines.

    I also reviewed Alpine Wines as recently as last month (at the SITT Tasting in London). Just a handful of wines, though.

    FWIW my favourite Swiss producer is Daniel Gantenbein, whose Pinots (and Chardonnays) from Graubunden are world class, but sadly beyond my pocket these days. Possibly at number two I’d put Marie-Thérèse Chappaz (Valais), but there are other contenders.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  6. There is a book “the surprising wines of switzerland” which is still available 2nd hand on Amazon. I haven’t read it for some time but iirc a decent enough introduction to the regions and grape varieties - as well as the active producers from a couple of decades ago - but one imagines that the inhabitants of this forum have at least as much knowledge up their sleeves...
    David Crossley likes this.
  7. Some years ago I was lucky enough to attend a “Gevrey vs Gantenbein” offline - Rainer Guntermann provided most of the wines although iirc he was too ill to attend himself. I think the notes may still he available on the old forum if we are still able to search.
  8. Was I not there too, Leon, along with Simon, and maybe even my wife? I do recall such a dinner at The Ledbury, which was rather wonderful.
    Leon Marks likes this.
  9. Ian Sinnott and David Crossley like this.
  10. Yes, and that was one of my last visits to The Ledbury, though I had an astonishing run there. Counted up my menus a while ago and there were around fifty.
    Leon Marks likes this.
  11. Yup, a fun evening. Rainer provided the Swiss wines, and I did the burgundies. Poor Rainer was then too ill to attend but generously insisted we continue regardless. The idea was attendees made a donation to charity in lieu of wine, but I can’t remember which charity it was.
  12. This probably won’t interest many people, but Severine from Domaine de Beudon is doing an open tasting at Dynamic’s Bermondsey HQ this Saturday (20/10). Time is 10am to 2pm. Be warned, access to Dynamic Vines’ premises can be slightly confusing.
  13. Is there such a thing as a good-value (even moderately so) Swiss wine?

    (Yeah, obviously these things are relative, but you know what I mean;))

    I wandered round Petra with a Valais winemaker some years ago, and she sent me some wines paying just the postage, but I wasn't that impressed.Considered TWS's offerings (Domaine des Muses), but thirty quid is a lot of cash for me and I wasn't convinced I wouldn't be underwhelmed.
  14. My strong sense is that, like British wines they are made in a place where land is expensive and there are lots of rich people - prices are meaningfully higher (maybe 2x) than a similar quality French equivalent. It doesn't mean they represent bad value - but you're paying explicitly for the Swiss-ness - in the same way you pay explicitly for the Englishness of your English bubbly.
    Mark Temple likes this.
  15. Thanks, Leon. I hate English wine and wouldn't pay even a tenner for it, as it's clearly overpriced, is grown in a completely inappropriate climate, and I don't like bubbles anyway. But then I'm planning to emigrate after the Brexit catastrophe, so I should at least avoid the ersatz versions that will no doubt appear at a lower price point.;)

    Switzerland does have a real tradition, though, at least in a few areas (and a proper amount of sunshine in those areas too), which is why I was hoping there might be some non-premium priced interest. I'm sure you're quite right, of course.

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