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!
This week, two more Swiss red blends, at affordable prices, like last week. But this time the two are very different, one from Vétroz in Valais and the other from the Côte d’Orbes in Vaud. As a bonus, a wine for special moments and a reminder that some wines need more time.
Rebbio 2017 from Jean-Réné Germanier is a wine that is a straightforward blend from relatively high vines in Vollèges and lower ones in Vétroz that are being reconverted to biodynamic farming. Surprisingly, it is a Pinot Noir and Gamaret blend: it is more powerful than expected, with black fruit and spicy notes that make me wonder if a bit of Syrah didn’t jump in there. Pleasant with character, balanced. CHF18 cellar price.
Esprit de Baulmes 2012 gave me one of those joyful unexpected wine moments when you find a wine in your cellar that you’d forgotten about and fear it might have died – and then it turns out to be very good! I don’t often buy Côtes de l’Orbe wines but I remember thinking that this one from the Cave des Treize Coteaux was promising and should be set aside. The nose is remarkable, all cocoa and deep red-black fruits aromas, rich in mouth and great balanced – overall a very pleasing wine. It’s a blend of Pinot, Gamay, Garanoir, Gamaret with some Galotta and Mara. All but the first are disease-resistant varieties developed in Switzerland in the past 50 years. Some producers say they lack character, but here is proof that you can make fine wine with them. Also special: the wine is matured in Swiss oak barrels made from woods in the region. CHF23.50, good value for money.
For Christmas we pulled another wine out of the cellar, one I had been keen to uncork, a 2013 bottle of Vitis Antiqua 1798, made as a joint project by several wineries in Leuk-Susten, Valais since 2004. The name comes from the mother of this wine, the oldest recorded and still living grapevine in Switzerland, planted in 1798 in Leuk. Grafts were made from this plant once DNA confirmed its age and variety, and 10,000 young plants were set out, some in the same vineyard in the village. Each year the mother plant produces 12 to 25 kilos of grapes. The wineries planted offshoots of the mother plant and each year they harvest the grapes at the same time and one of them vinifies the harvest.
The wine itself is an ode to the past, with its good structure and depth and Cornalin pure cherry and black cherry fruit. It also bows to the present, with a freshness that is very modern and provides both striking character and balance. It was the perfect Christmas dinner wine. CHF48.
Hommage Maurice Gay is a 2014 Cornalin-Merlot blend, another Valais wine and an interesting contrast to the Cornalin we enjoyed at Christmas. The fine qualities of this new-on-the-market wine come through, but it really needs another five years to develop into the wine it promises to be, with the cherry fruit of the Cornalin too subtle for now and the depth of the Merlot there but it feels too young, especially the tannins. It was created in honour of one of the pioneers of quality wines in Valais. This is one not to uncork now! CHF76