BERN, SWITZERLAND – I took the train from Lausanne to Bern and back today, one of my favourite train rides in a country spoiled for traveler’s rail pleasures.
I had a good cup of coffee and a giant croissant which the waiter described as a “Zurich croissant”, and I read a new book on Chasselas wine in canton Vaud. It’s by friend, author and wine consultant Chandra Kurt. I’ll review it once I finish it, but I certainly enjoyed the beginning. I watched the golden vineyards of Lavaux sail by, and suddenly we were in Fribourg, Swiss cow country. Lake Geneva disappeared and we had rolling hills with the Bernese Alps as a backdrop. I was reminded, as I always am when I travel here, how remarkably varied the geography of this country is, and why that makes for so many different and interesting wines.
The destination: a press conference for Swiss Wine Week, held at the Lötschberg, about a five minute walk from the Bern train station. This was, several years ago, called the Swiss Wine Bar, one of a couple owned by a since-defunct Swiss wine promotion group. That body disappeared, to be replaced three years ago by the far more dynamic Swiss Wine Promotion industry professional body. The bar, meanwhile, was bought by a private group and 30 wineries became shareholders. These are very good wineries and today you can find their bottles, for consumption by the glass or bottle in the restaurant or to take home. It’s a great little wine bar!
We sampled some regional dishes paired with fine wines: a Petite Arvine from Valais, a Merlot from Ticino, Gamaret blend from Geneva, Pinot Noir from Aargau and a beautiful sparkling wine from Mauler in Môtier. Did I miss anything?
And then I took another train ride home, with a wee nap. The sun shining, the rails vibrating and a nice lunch behind me put this traveler and wine writer – and half the train – in the mood for a siesta.
Now it’s time to consider which of the 200 restaurants taking part in Swiss Wine Week should go on my agenda. Check out the list on their site.