What a pity that Switzerland is not even on the radar screen as a wine destination because it surely ranks up there with the Mosel, Douro, Mendoza and Capetown as being one of the most picturesque wine regions in the world. In fact the Lavaux wine region is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We returned yesterday to the Valais wine area which is the largest of Switzerland’s 8 (Valais, Grison, Schaaffouse, Neufchatel, Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg, Tissin) wine districts, both by volume and surface area with 1500 hectares of vineyards, stretching some 200 km from end to end in the valley and with 400 winemakers. In fact Valais produces 1/3 of the total Swiss production and very little Swiss wine is exported. We had a tutored tasting by Fabrice Thorin,the director of the Chateau Villa which is the enoteca for the entire Valais area. We tasted a Fendant ’13 (aka Chasselas) from J.C. Favre which reminded some of us of Torontes; Petite Arvine ’14 by Mettaz, a variety only found in the Valais with hints of rhubarb and grapefruit and a smooth rich finish because of the 2nd malolactic fermentation; Heida (aka Paien or Savagnin in the Jura) ’13 by Rouvinez, with exotic fruit like mango and pineapple and a very nice minerality; Cornelian by Lanon ’14, with an intense color and aroma: cherries in aroma and taste, very much like a good village Beaujolais; Syrah by Gerard Besse ’12, with some wood aging; and Humagne Rouge ’13 by Defayeset Crettenaud, with an initial animal aroma which dissipated quickly and developed violet and chocolat sensations.
We also learned that the Valais benefits from a wind called the Fhoen, which acts very much like the Mistral in France and helps prevent mildew. We also had lunch here which consisted of fresh Spring white asperagus and a 5 cheese raquette, which is melted and then served.
Our final visit was to Domaine La Liaudisaz where the owner, Marie-Thérèse Chappaz, has been called the greatest winemaker in Switzerland! And her wines wowed us all. Although she is recovering from an accident, she personally conducted our tasting of 16 wines! (that is, after we found the winery hidden in the small village of Fully)
Fendant 2014; Grain Arvine la Louye ’14, the specialty of this area; Grain Cinq ’14, a blend of 5 varieties; Grain Ermitage (marsanne) ’13 produced from 90 year old vines, which we later visited after hiking up the steep slopes; Grain Gamay old vines ’14; Grain Pinot les Dahrres ’14; Grain Pinot Chanson ’14; Grain Pinot Charrat ’14; Grain Pinot Champ Dury ’13 (ps this quartet of Pinot was deemed the best of the entire tour!); Grain Cornelian ’14; Grain Noir blend of Cab Fr, Cab Sauv, and Merlot in the 2013 and 2009 vintages; Grain Sauvage Planche Billon ’14 (humagne rouge); and three divine late harvest wines: Grain Noble Petite Arvine ’13; Grain Noble Marsanne Blanche ’12 and the Grain Noble petite ravine 2003.
Regrettably Marie-Thérèse only produces about 40,000 bottles so her wines are rarely exported. I bought two for my club tasting back in the States.
Our last day was a free day before heading to the Restaurant du Chateau in Villeneuve for our farewell dinner. I and at least five others visited the Chateau de Chillon, made famous by Lord Byron.
There’s a reason why this area is called the Swiss Riviera; it gets Vin’s 5 star rating as a wine destination to visit for its sheer beauty, outstanding unique wines and delectable cuisine. Please take the time to view all the photos from our stay in the Jura and Switzerland; this should convince you to add this to your bucket list.