Geneva holds its wineries’ open house day this Saturday, 30 May, a great chance to discover some of the little treasure chest wines hidden there. Grape names you rarely hear in Switzerland, or at least not in French-speaking Switzerland, like Scheurebe, Kerner, Findling, Dunkelfelder and Cabernet Dorsaz, are on the wine lists of several wineries.
Note that open house in Geneva is a one day event, from and not the entire weekend, as in larger wine regions Vaud and Valais.
Ticino is also holding its open day this Saturday, if you feel like heading south and sampling Merlot in particular, the canton’s specialty.
Right bank is home to experimentation
Geneva is known for its Gamay for reds and Chasselas for whites, the two most widely grown grape varieties. If you’re new to the area or new to the region’s wines, you might not be aware of its excellent reputation for small amounts of other specialty grapes, most of which are found on the Right Bank, around the Mandement area. Growing conditions there are more varied, with steep hillsides facing the sun in a number of directions, allowing growers to try small amounts of unusual grapes.
A few wineries that are known for these:
Domaine du Centaure, Claude Ramu, Dardagny – his Actéon wine, Kerner, Findling
Domaine des Charmes, Conne family, Satigny – Findling, aka Griset Blanc, which surprised the wine world when it turned out to be of Hungarian origin after DNA tests were run: floral nose with mandarine and pear notes; also try the award-winning Sauvignon Blanc
Domaine les Perrières, Satigny, another good place for Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that likes Geneva
Domaine de la Donzelle, Dardagny, Aligoté, the grape mixed with black currant syrup or alcohol that made kir such a famous drink over the border in France, as well as Mondeuse, with a story of its own
Clos des Pins, Marc Ramu, Dardagny, Scheurebe (German, cross between Sylvaner & Riesling), an exotic floral and dry white.
Domaine du Paradis, Russin, Aligoté and plenty of other surprises – just ask!
If you’re over on the Left Bank, a winery that is equally a pioneer for grape varieties is Domaine de la Vigne Blanche in Cologny: be sure to try some of the blends.
The list is far from complete, but do branch out and try some new grapes this year, a good way to learn more about wine, what you like best and to understand why.