Winners will be named in OctoberWine from canton Valais, the largest wine producing region, with one-third of Switzerland’s vines. All of the cantons are well represented at the GPVS in 2013.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / AMONG THE VINES – A record number of wines, some 31,00, are entered in Switzerland’s national wine competition, a sign that times are tough for winemakers, but also that the 7-year-old competition is now widely accepted in the industry as the benchmark for Swiss wines as a whole.
The Grand Prix du Vin Suisse (GPVS) kicks off today in Sierre and from now until 29 June, 150 experts will judge the wines, which fall into 12 categories. Tables of five judges each will blind taste, every morning, at least 45 wines, analyzing them for the quality of the look, nose and mouth of each wine. The competition is computerized, so that judges independently note their evaluations but a table president can quickly ask for a discussion and remarks in the case of very divergent results. The computerization also helps the organizers assess the results to ensure the quality of the competition.
The Swiss Winemaker of the Year will be named as part of the competition and special prizes will be awarded, including one for the best white wine of the GPVS and another for the best red.
Swiss wines tend to perform very well at a number of international wine competitions, but smaller producers often don’t take part in these because of the expense and time involved – and their market is more often at home, in Switzerland. The GPVS gives them a chance to pit their products against those of the larger wineries that have racked up awards outside the country.
Swiss wine producers won 45 medals at the huge Concours de Bruxelles in May, for example, putting it in eighth place despite the small size of the country’s production, about equal to that of just one wine region in France, Burgundy. Swiss wines performed very well at the internationally renowned Vinalies in Paris in March, with 82 awards, about 7 percent of the total.
The special prizes at the GPVS but also the 36 top prizes – three for each of the 12 categories – are coveted as important marketing tools: medal-winning wines sell more readily.
Some of Switzerland’s regional wine competitions have been announcing their winners in the past few days, with Geneva and Neuchatel naming theirs just as the big hail storm that pummeled western Switzerland last week was releasing its fury, and damaging the vineyards. These are key marketing opportunities for the wine producers, a change to reach a wider group of consumers and retailers.
The Grand Prix du Vin Suisse is jointly organized by the Vinea Association and Vinum wine revue.