This blog has suffered from lack of attention by the author for the past month for a good reason: a team of seven and I have been putting the finishing touches on the first-ever English edition of The Swiss Wine Guide, which will make its debut 7 November, produced by Vinea and published by Ringier. I’ve been awash in wine texts, maddening, since there is a lot going on that I would like to write about!
One bit of news not to be overlooked came via a vibrating iPhone in my pocket as I was walking into a meeting: Robert Taramarcaz, one of Switzerland’s hottest young winemakers, had sent an SMS to a group to say he’d just had an extraordinary success at the Sélection des Vins du Valais 2008 wine competition. Of the 593 wines entered, his Domaine des Muses cellar had run off with eight gold stars and six silvers, as well as the wine with the highest overall number of points, his Humagne Rouge.
His love and specialty is sweet wines, and he makes exquisite ones – my favorite is Polymnie, spun liquid gold – but I was very impressed at Arvinis in Morges in April when I tasted his two Fendants (Valais name for Chasselas), a “classic version” (CHF14.50) and one in his “tradition” line (CHF18). Clearly, he has been mastering the whole range of reds and whites, sweet to dry. The winery is in Sierre, although his base is in Granges and his excellent vineyards are scattered across Valais.
Several other producers made a good showing, including the much larger Provins, which is Switzerland’s largest viti-vinicultural company. The competition has a spring and an autumn session, with the spring one having nearly twice as many entries. At this time of the year, as wine writer Paul Vetter notes in Le Nouvelliste, many of the smaller producers simply don’t have the spare stock to enter their wines in competitions.
Don’t wait if you want to taste any of these! Valais may be Switzerland’s largest wine-producing canton, but most of the producers are small and supplies limited.