Grape variety growing rapidly in international popularity; Swiss Pinot Noirs among best
Sierre, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – The World Champion Pinot Noir producer is a Graubuenden winery, Weingut Donatsch Malans, for its Donatsch Pinot Noir Passion.
The award, announced 2 September by the Mondial du Pinot Noir international wine competition, is given to the winery that for three successive vintages has received the highest score at the Mondial (best average and consistent style).
It draws attention to the best terroirs, but also to the oenologist’s know-how and skill in continually producing top wines, and to the wine’s ability to age well.
The Mondial, which took place in Sierre in early August 2010, had 1,134 wines entered this year, from 21 countries. Pinot Noir reds, blanc de noirs and rosé wines are the main entries, but Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, cousin varieties, also compete separately. Six percent, or 71 wines were awarded gold and 260 wines, 23 percent were given silver.
Swiss wines carried away the largest number of gold awards, 56, followed by Germany with 10, Austria with 3. Australia and Bulgaria each had one gold winner. Switzerland entered more wines than other countries, but its strong performance has much to do with the fact that Pinot Noir is the most widely-grown grape in the country, outpacing even Chasselas, the white wine for which Switzerland is often known.
Yann Juban from France, a judge and also deputy director of the Paris-based OIV (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin), which oversees the competition, told GenevaLunch that one of Switzerland’s real strengths as a wine-producing country is its Pinot Noirs.
The grape, which is delicate and a challenge to vinify well, grows in virtually every grape-growing canton.
Pinot Noir growing in popularity, internationally
The competition is growing in importance as the popularity of Pinot Noir rises: Sébastien Gavillet is a wine consultant from Las Vegas who was one of the Mondial du Pinot Noir judges.
He knows the US market well. “Pinot Noir’s popularity is booming in the United States right now. It’s starting to replace Merlot.
For me, this is the grape variety of the decade.” One of the reasons is that the wine is lighter than more concentrated, tannic wines, which makes it an easier beverage for young people just getting interested in wine. It also has good flexibility as a wine to pair with foods. Roderick Wong, a judge at the Mondial and chief sommelier for the Hilton hotels in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, says that it goes well with many Asian foods: it is his personal favourite to accompany Peking duck, for example.
Valais the heavyweight, but Neuchatel, Vaud and Thurgau shine
Valais is Switzerland’s largest producer of wines and it grows Pinot Noir in virtually every wine village.
It walked off with 34 of the 56 Swiss gold awards. Adrian Mathier from Nouveau Salquenen put in a particularly impressive performance, with four gold medals.
He was named Swiss Winemaker of the Year by the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse, a national competition, in 2008. Neuchatel, home to the pale oeil-de-perdrix wines, won six gold, five of which were for this specialty. Vaud and Thurgau each had four golds.
The wines can be sampled by the public Friday evening 3 September at the Hotel de Ville in Sierre, as part of the opening of the Vinea Swiss wine fair.