Fine blends, aromatic whites from 2014 vintage
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chasselas, Cabernet Franc and a blend were the official Geneva stars Wednesday evening at the canton’s annual wine awards, the Sélection des vins de Genève.
The awards evening at the Hôtel de Ville shows off some of the best wines in the region, 56 gold medal winners out of the 654 wines submitted.
A panel of mainly oenologists and the cantonal wine office’s technical experts judge the wines.
Five special prizes are awarded by various groups and these are chosen by them from among the gold medal winners.
Two wineries made a particularly impressive show, both of them from Peissy. Cave Les Crêtets won two of the special prizes including the one for the wine with the highest overall number of points.
Domaine Les Perrières won a record nine gold medals and the Tradition Trophy.
And the winners are –
- The boar prize, awarded to the wine with the highest number of points: Pinot Noir 2014, Cave Les Crêtets in Peissy
- Bronze fox, for the favourite wine selected by the canton’s café and restaurant business: Cabernet Franc 2013, Cave Les Crêtets in Peissy
- Bronze young boar prize, offered by students at the Ecole Hôtelière de Genève: red blend, “Mathurin”, Domaine de Chafalet
- The press prize, an engraving of a weasel: Chasselas 2014, Domaine des Alouettes
- Tradition Trophy, an engraving of an eagle’s nest, rewards the winery with the highest combined average score for its Chasselas and Gamay, is offered by the Compagnie des Vieux-Grenadiers: Domaine Les Perrières.
The value of gold and silver labels
The awards are useful for consumers because they offer a good range of the best wines, and they help wineries with winners because the gold and silver labels boost sales. They also serve as a testing ground, where wine producers can see how they measure up against other wineries and where newer, younger producers can find public recognition.
The awards serve another purpose: they help anchor the previous grape harvest. The new wines are officially presented in early May and the canton’s winery open house day is at the end of that month, but in both cases the wines are still quite young, with many of them bottled just beforehand. By mid-June to mid-July they are becoming more interesting and a chance to sample the best at the awards ceremony is always welcome. I found the red blends and aromatic whites from 2014 to be good, in general.
I was asked by Tony Johnston of WRS, who interviewed me on live radio as I was en route to the awards, if those labels on bottles really matter. I said yes, as long as you know which ones. There are any number of wine competitions where the judging is not neutral, often those organized by small groups of producers, so do look at who has given the award. Switzerland’s cantonal Sélections are the official regional competitions and winners from these go on to the national Grand Prix du Vin Suisse awards, for example, or other highly regarded competitions for grape varieties, such as the Mondial des Pinots in Sierre or the Mondial du Chasselas in Aigle and big international competitions such as the Brussels one and Vinalies in Paris.
You might like some better than others, but you know they have the stamp of approval of technical experts who tasted them blind.
The 10-minute audio WRS interview is at the end of this article.
My favourite new Geneva wines
My own selection follows. You can find the complete list of official gold and silver medal winners on the Opage (agriculture office) web page and its mobile application, www.geneveterroir.ch and on the mobile application Gèneve Terroir.
white, Chasselas 2014, Domaine Les Alouettes, Satigny (Jean-Daniel, Florian Ramu)
Pleasing floral nose, more mineral than many Geneva Chasselas, hint of bitterness in the finish – good aperitif and for a cleansing small glass to end a meal with several wines. CHF9, cellar price
white, Pinot Blanc 2014, Domaine Les Perrières, Peissy (Bernard Rochaix)
Pinot Blanc is famous for its cat pee pee smell when the grapes are picked not quite ripe, a problem for some growers in 2013. But 2014 was a kinder year for aromatic wines and this Pinot Blanc has a lovely nose; in mouth it keeps its promise. CHF12.50, cellar price
rosé, Gamay 2014, Domaine des Alouettes, Satigny (Jean-Daniel, Florian Ramu)
My favourite of the small selection of rosé wines, delicately lovely pale pink in colour; fruity, dry and refreshing. CHF9, cellar price
red, blend, “Mathurin” 2012, Domaine de Chafalet, Jussy (Guy et Mathurin Ramu)
I’m not surprised the students from the hotel school chose this one – the Cabernet nose has a luscious appeal and it’s closer to a New World wine than many in Geneva. Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamaret blend, new addition to the winery, made in new oak barrels. Very smooth, good structure and depth. Good now, and for the next five years. CHF25
red, Gamay, “Red Baron” 2014, Domaine des Charmes, Peissy (Conne family)
A classic and 2014 is no exception: this is surely one of the finest Gamay wines around, deep and rich and spicy. Made only in 37.5 ml bottles, as it comes from a small number of selected, older vines. CHF13.30, cellar price as of 6
white, sweet, Sauvignon doux 2013, Domaine des Bossons, Peissy (Eric Leyvraz)
A delight of a late harvest wine: aromatic, well-balanced, not overly sweet. CHF21, cellar price