Uncork now: my wine recommendations as well as reflections on what makes good and great wines, what wines work with what foods. You want to know what Swiss wines to buy, why and where, take them home and just enjoy them? Join me. Santé!
When I feel I am getting run down – it’s winter – I cook liver and onions, letting the onions sweat gently for several minutes before turning up the heat and rapidly cooking the liver slices (“2 belles tranches”, the butcher and I agree) that have been sprinkled with good freshly ground pepper and fleur de sel. Two minutes each side, max. Switzerland is a cheese country, right? And that means a lot of cows, and that means a lot of milk-fed calves, so if you like liver, this is a great country to live in.
The wine: Humagne Rouge is perfect. I tried a new one for me, 2016, from Saillon’s Domaine Dussex (some vines in Chamoson) which describes it as “classy and wild”, with notes of ivy and forest underbrush. I have no idea what ivy smells like, despite having some in my garden, but I would agree with the underbrush, lush and pungent, and I would add hints of smoke, fresh black currants.
Dussex uses the high tech Italian Ardea seals, and the bottle had to be opened with an old-fashioned simple corkscrew. As an experiment I took the remaining half bottle of wine and replaced the cork. Two nights later it was in great shape. I tried the same thing last summer with a bottle from Chamoson wine producer Jean-Daniel Favre’s Cave La Tornale white Petite Arvine, equally successfully. The Dussez winery is currently reconverting to biodynamic vineyards. CHF25, cellar price.
Fondue from Gruyère, wine from Zurich
I bought some moitié-moitié (two kinds of cheese) fondue when I passed through Gruyère last week and it seemed just right for Sunday night. Heretic, I thought, as I pulled the cork out of a fine bottle of Räuschling from canton Zurich, and then I reminded myself that this kind of inter cantonal cultural behaviour is just what Switzerland needs to see more often. Normally we have Fendant from Valais to go with Valais fondue. The cheese was delightful, with a boost from our garden garlic, now reaching its final stages of winter storage.
The wine: 2016 Winzerkeller Strasser’s Räuschling, made by the young and very talented Cédric and Nadine Besson-Strasser whose winery is north of the city of Zurich, on the Rheinfall bends of the Zurich river, not far from Schaffhausen.
Fendant is the norm with fondue, but a wine with more acidity, either a Petite Arvine or a Räuschling, is sometimes what you’re in the mood for. This one is very well made (when not, the acidity can be sharp). Räuschling was once widely planted, especially around Lake Zurich, but interest fell off due to erratic yields – growers looked for easier grapes. The winemakers note that new clones are partially responsible for the comeback of this grape. CHF20.00, cellar price (corrected)
And here’s the bonus: I tried the leftover Humagne Rouge with the fondue. If you want a red with your fondue, and why not? this is a good option.