Across the board, successful wines
Half a decade, half a lifetime ago for a group: my first tasting of wines by the Junge Schweiz Neue Winzer (young Swiss wine producers) left me thinking they needed more time. The group was created in 2010 and four years after that I tasted their wines and found some excellent, many quite good and several – hmmm, not as successful as the others.
That has changed, and I think the group showcases the changing landscape of Swiss wine, where the focus is now strongly on precision, quality, retaining close ties to the land and making wine that reflects this. The wines I sampled 28 March in Lucerne, at their annual presentation, were consistently good, with some that are real stars.
I like several things about this group, whose members have to be under 40. They are a mix of producers. Some come from old family businesses that are well established, others are from small wineries that are young and still asserting themselves and then there are a handful who are striking out on their own. They share a common vision of the need for high quality wines in order to survive in today’s market – more than their parents they see this need, given falling consumption and imports that are eating market share. They speak different languages; many if not most have worked outside Switzerland and they travel abroad, so they have a basis for comparison with wines from elsewhere. They are keen to work together, to share their experience and learn from each other. At lunch I sat across from Roman Rutishauser, who was named the winemaker Rookie of the Year 2019 by GaultMillau. I asked him a technical question about a wine and he said, “Wow, I’m not really sure, I don’t know so much about that – let’s ask them,” and he turned to our neighbours and started a lively discussion.
In many cases I find a humility and willingness to concede that some of their wines are works-in-progress. They have visions, ideas, things they want to try, and they are honest enough to say when the wine isn’t yet there. They are also confident about their ability to get it right, and they support each other’s efforts.
Shared concerns, visions and Swissness
More than the previous generation, I sense with them a weaker Röstigräben, the language divide, and a greater sense of the need to talk to each other and to talk to the world about “Swiss wine” rather than just local or regional wines.
Here are a few images from my lunch and wine tasting session with them in Lucerne. They are, for me, the very promising future of Swiss wine.