A blanc de noir from near Sierre in canton Valais is just right, between seasons
It’s too cold out for summer rosés, I’m getting tired of winter reds, and we wanted something besides white last weekend. We opted for a lovely wine, Pradezian, a blanc de noir from Maurice Zufferey in Muraz, above Sierre in canton Valais, to accompany our first barbecue of the season (the chef wore a winter jacket).
This is a still wine; many people know the term “blanc de noir” more in connection with champagnes.
Blanc de noir looks like rosé at first, but it’s really an oeil-de-perdrix, what Americans usually call blush wines. These are often blends in the US. Here it’s a varietal (single grape) wine, with Zufferey looking to bring out the typicity, or typical aromas of the Pinot Noir grape.
The grapes are pressed and then the skins are quickly removed from the juice to prevent the wine from picking up too much colour from the skins. It is vinified like a white wine, not a red.
Taste: fresh fruits, berries and especially the strawberry one finds in Pinot Noirs, with a hint of anise, which makes it interesting. Zufferey suggests offering it as an aperitif wine or with Asian food or grilled meat. We had it with a barbecue, but felt it worked better as an aperitif wine, perfect with warm hors d’oeuvres.
A quiet expert who works closely with nature
I first came across Zufferey when my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary at Didier de Courten’s restaurant, at the Hotel Terminus in Sierre, where the wine steward (who is well worth asking for suggestions) strongly recommended a Zufferey sweet wine, Zirouc. It provided a wonderful end to an extravagantly beautiful meal.
Two weeks later I interviewed one of Switzerland’s award-winning young winemakers, Robert Taramarcaz and asked who his mentors are: Maurice Zufferey, he replied promptly, “one of the best winemakers around”.
I visited Maurice Zufferey in the autumn, when the wind was blowing hard and snow seemed just around the corner. His small cozy tasting-room is above the winery in Muraz, a village that stretches the length of Sierre, above it on what feels like a shelf of land.
Zuffery is typical of many of the best of Switzerland’s relatively small winemakers, putting his heart, soul and money into what goes into the bottle, rather than into a flashy public presentation space.
He’s unpretentious, knows his business, loves his wines – and he’ll happily sit down and talk to you about them.
He has some of the best vine parcels around Sierre and he’s well known among winemakers for his meticulous care of his vines, working very much in tune with nature, with the vineyard worked according to integrated production principles. Two-thirds of his 8.5 hectares are reds and he makes beautiful Pinot Noir wines.
Pradezian, blanc de noir from Pinot Noir, CHF14.50