Well-Kept secrets: Swiss wines to seek out
While Swiss food and drink is often dominated by topics such as chocolate and cheese, when it comes to Swiss wine there is also a lot to shout about. Only 1% of Swiss wines are actually exported so you’re unlikely to have stumbled across a bottle in your local supermarket or on a regular restaurant menu. When most of us think of wine we might go straight to French or Australian vineyards. However, Swiss wines have a lot to offer – and it’s partly because the Swiss are so reluctant to export them that they have remained such a well kept secret.
A bona fide wine growing region
Despite the fact that Switzerland doesn’t really export its wines there has still been a great deal of investment in the Swiss wine industry. Wine and viticulture here has an impressive history, dating back at least to Roman times. This has produced a very healthy market with a mouth-watering range of tipples that you might find it difficult to locate when you’re outside of the country. Most of Switzerland’s wines come from the west or the south of the country in areas such as Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud. Red grape varieties dominate, taking up 58% of the available vineyard surface in the country.
Finding Swiss wine to try
Of the little wine that is exported from Switzerland most of this goes to Germany. However, the vast majority of it is still drunk within national boundaries. Many of the best known wines that come from Switzerland are made from the Chasselas grape variety (white). With more than 200 different indigenous varieties being used in wine production in Switzerland there are some unusual and innovative tastes to try.
As you might expect from a wine industry that has not gone global, much of the wine production remains local and is often in the hands of family dynasties. Smaller vineyards with traditional practices, as well as a creative outlook have become experts at creating delicious wines that are beginning to attract the attention of those beyond the country’s boundaries. If you’re keen to try Swiss wine for the first time these are three good options to start with:
1. Doral Expression Uvavins Caves de la Côte Morges 2012 £17.40, nickdobsonwines.co.uk This type of wine blends Chardonnay and Chasselas – expect something gently aromatic as a result.
2. Lavaux Grand Cru Dezaley Hauts de Pierre Domaine Blaise Duboux 2012, £32, thewinesociety.com This is one of the most famous varieties (Chasselas) from one of the best known producers in the Vaud.
3. Jean-René Germanier Balavaud Heida Savagnin Blanc 2012, £13.60, jrgermanier.ch – another good option to try for Swiss wine first timers.
As it is barely exported, Swiss wine now has something of an exclusive feel to it. Whether you’re looking to find options to sample at home or you’re visiting Switzerland and want to indulge it is well worth taking the time to get to know the country’s exciting and burgeoning wine industry.