LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – The new Terravin Laurier de Platine wine, vintage 2011, is the Clos de la Dame 2011 from Féchy by Raymond Metzener of the Domaine Chatelanat in Perroy. This best-loved Chasselas, a fine example of what this grape can give us, was named Thursday afternoon in Lausanne as the top Chasselas in canton Vaud, among some 900 wines, after a selection process that lasted several weeks. It culminated in a seven-stage elimination tasting session Thursday.
I’ve always wondered how this wine is selected every year, since Terravin, the organizers, make it clear this is not a wine competition, but a quality label.
Apple notes, good minerality, refreshing
This year I took part in the selection: more about that as soon as I tell you about the wine itself, the star of the show.
Clos de la Dame has a delicate nose of apple, especially green apple and some citrus fruit.
Two other tasters near me said after we finished that it had a touch of minerality at the end, although not everyone agrees you can smell “mineral” and for me there was a hint of saltiness (but how do you smell that?).
In mouth this wine comes into its own: fruity than the nose led me to expect, round yet refreshing, with apple again present, a very pleasing minerality and a relatively long finish. A classic with lake fish or white meat.
The winery has been in the same family for 150 years—today’s descendents are the Bugnion and Briod families—and winemaking has been handled by the Metzeners for 100 years, in the kind of close relationship that is typical of some of the other Clos, Domaines & Chateaux wineries in Vaud.
Metzener, who oversees the 8.5 hectares of vines, works with Claude Jaccard, cellar master, and oenologist Thierry Ciampi, well known for his work at the Schenk winery.
Metzener’s vines are spread around the triangle where Perroy, Féchy and Mont-sur-Rolle come together.
The Clos de la Dame vine parcel is on the hillside that runs up to Bougy-Villars. “I guess we’re lucky,” Metzener told me in Perroy after winning the award. “Our wines from up on the hillside take a bit longer to come into their own.”
He’s been working hard to diversify from the almost entirely Chasselas collection of grapes, which now comprise 80 percent of the vines.
He recently added several grape varieties, and he’s particularly happy about the Doral, a grape developed at Changins in Switzerland that is a cross between Chasselas and Chardonnay.
But Chasselas remains a regular winner here. Clos de la Dame 2011 won silver at the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse, judged in July, and gold at the Mondial du Chasselas, judged in June.
This year’s platine wine was one of only two among the 16 Terravin Lauriers de Platine finalists that was not from Lavaux, the famed Unesco World Heritage terraced vines region.
The 900 entries are tasted and judged for quality by a team of professionals, mainly oenologists, during the course of several weeks. They select, based on a set of criteria, 32 of the best, then in later tastings they reduce this to 16.
Thursday, a group of 25 of us, some professionals in the wine business, others wine journalists like me, sat down to select our favourite. No criteria were given for making our selection. “It’s totally subjective, simply choose the wine you like best,” I was told by oenologist Rodrigo Banto from Cave Cidis in Morges, who has done this before.
We started with a flight of four and had to number them in the order in which we liked them. We did this four more times to work our way through the 16. Believe me, deciding your preferences among 16 Chasselas wines of the same vintage is not easy! There are differences, but they are often subtle. We took a break before returning to the table to re-taste the top eight based on our first selections. And then a very short pause before the final selection, the best of four.
Metzener’s wine came in number 2 in the first selection, then number 1 in the second and number 1 again in the third and final round.
Did we remember which wines we had already tasted? Some yes, most said maybe or no: no one I spoke to felt sure they had given the same top ratings to the same wines. Loving a wine is partly a question of what goes before and after it. Certain tendancies in personal preferences became apparent, with some people liking more floral or more mineral wines, but even these preferences shift in the course of a tasting session.
We couldn’t check our own rankings against the final list until later in the day, so unless we made notes about the wines as we went along, and kept our sheets, it was impossible to know if we agreed or not with the crowd.
This is what I learned:
- by the time you prune 900 wines down to the 16 best, all of them are very fine wines
- comparing one very fine wine to 15 others forces you to reflect on how much of your judgement is a matter of winemaking style, your own taste, or in the end, the ability of the terroir to dance well with both of these
- anyone who can close his eyes and say, “aha, this is so-and-so’s wine from the such-and-such winery, vintage 2011″ when comparing it to other wines from the same grape is either a bluff or he drinks that wine so regularly he would know it in his sleep.
Viva la différence!
WHERE TO FIND THE WINE
Clos de la Dame 2011, Domaine Chatelanat, Perroy, canton Vaud: CHF12 for 75cl. Winery open Mon-Fri by appointment, Saturday 9-12.
List of other wines available soon on the Terravin web site.
So Friday afternoon ended with a visit to the Lavaux Vinorama, built into the rocks on the lakefront near Vevey in May 2010.
If you haven’t yet visited, do so. It’s beautifully done and offers all the producers’ wines from Lavaux at winery prices. And take the time to watch the film about a year in the life of a wine producer.
Photos: Philippe Corthey of Terravin shows the judges one of the Terravin labels that designate top-quality Vaud wines. The outside of the Vinorama.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – “Floris” in Anières, canton Geneva, and “Mesa” in Zurich, are the newcomers to Michelin’s list of Swiss two-star restaurants. Floria is headed by Claude Legras and Mesa by Marcus Lindner. They bring the number of eateries with two stars to 18.
Switzerland now has a total of 96 restaurants with stars from the famed French guide, more than any other per person among European countries. The new edition, 520 pages, is on sale in Switzerland, Germany and Austria 17 November, for CHF33. It includes hotels as well as restaurants.
Just two restaurants have three stars: Philippe Rochat and Benoît Violier’s “Hôtel de Ville” in Crissier, canton Vaud, and Andreas Caminada’s “Schauenstein” in Fuerstenau, Graubuenden.
Seventy-six one-star restaurants make up the bulk of the list. Eight restaurants lost their stars for the 2012 Guide which is available Thursday 17 November. Eleven new retaurants joined, with one star.
The other two-star restaurants the Lake Geneva area are:
- “Le Domaine de Châteauvieux“, Philippe Chevrier, Satigny, Geneva
- “Georges Wenger“, Georges Wenger, Noirmont, Jura
- “Le Cerf“, Carlo Crisci, Cossonay, Vaud
- Beau-Rivage Palace, Anne-Sophie Pic, Lausanne, Vaud
- “Le Pont de Brent“, Stéphane Décotterd, Brent/Montreux, Vaud
- “Denis Martin“, Denis Martin, Vevey, Vaud
- “Hotel Terminus“, Didier de Courten, Sierre, Valais.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Here are some of the items on three special Geneva restaurant menus the third week of August, to tempt your palate: courgette/zucchini flowers stuffed with Provencal vegetables, tandoori roast crab gratin, honey and ginger carmelized Dombes duckling. Special wines by the glass are available, as well.
Three of Geneva’s best restaurants are joining together to promote what they hope will become an annual event that could catch on in the area: Restaurant Week, 15-20 August, where you can pay CHF50 or 65 for a two- or three-course meal, at lunchtime or in the evening, and discover the city’s haute gastronomie. The week is designed to offer those who usually dine in lesser establishments a chance to discover, at an affordable price, three very different restaurants with excellent reputations.
The idea originated in New York in the 1990s, the brainchild of Tim Zagat of restaurant review fame and restaurant owner Joseph Baum. The basic idea is simple: introduce people who are new to contemporary fine dining gastronomic menus for relatively affordable prices, for a week.
Le Chat Botté at Hôtel Beau-Rivage hosted a first Restaurant Week in February and it was a clear success. This time it is joined by Rasoi and Windows.
Windows restaurant, Hôtel d’Angleterre
Panoramic views of Geneva’s boardwalk and the Jet d’eau with the Mont-Blanc in the background, dishes prepared by chef Philippe Audonnet, with the accent on Mediterranean cuisine, where the accent is on fresh produce and flavours. Superb wine list. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 906 5514
Rasoi by Vineet, Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Indian restaurant Rasoi is one of the best-known in the Geneva area. The “evolved” Indian cuisine created by chef Sandeep Bhagwat is accompanied by a spectacular presentation, says the restaurant, a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 909 0006
Le Chat Botté, Hôtel Beau-Rivage
Le Chat Botté boasts the creative, contemporary French cuisine of its notable chef Dominique Gauthier. The restaurant has a wonderful terrace with good views of Geneva’s lakefront area, the jet d’eau and the mountains. The restaurant assures us that diners during the Restaurant Week will be offered a number of hard-to-find wines from its famed cellar, one of the finest in Switzerland. Details, reservations and telephone: +41 22 716 69 21
[update: video added] Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) - Here is hope for the unemployed: keep the faith that you are good at what you do and you will be rewarded. Denmark’s arguably best chef, Rasmus Kofoed, won the Bocuse d’Or title of Europe’s best chef, last week in Geneva. His Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant, Geranium, was closed recently for financial reasons, and the chef is currently without a restaurant, but he is expected to re-open it in August near the Parken sports stadium in the city.
The prize comes with a €12,000 award. Second and third place winners Gunnar Hvarnes of the Restaurant Hos Ingrid in Stavanger, Norway and Jérôme Jaegle, Restaurant Têtedoie in Lyon, France, were awarded €9,000 and €6,000 respectively.
Kofoed, age 35, has previously won bronze and silver at the competition. He now joins chefs from around the world for the 2011 Bocuse international final in January in Lyon, sometimes referred to as the World Cuisine Contest (Concours mondial de la cuisine).
His entries in the Geneva event:
- “flétan demi-sel au beurre noisette, morilles et fleurs de ciboule”
- “rôti de veau au jambon de Skagen, gressillons soufflés, airelles et pain noir, servi avec des ris de veau croustillants, asperges blanches, ail des ours et raifort”.
The competition, presided over by Swiss three-star chef Philippe Rochat and French chef Joël Robuchon, invites 20 young chefs from 20 countries. The event takes place during the French-Swiss Gourmet salon in Geneva. The chefs have five hours 35 minutes to prepare two dishes in front of the public, working in 18m2 boxes. The first is meat-based, this year Swiss veal with two side dishes. The second is a fish-based dish, for 2010 one Sterling halibut weighing 5-6 kilos, with its head, served with two side dishes.
Kofoed came in second in 2007 in a competition tainted by controversy over pots used by winning chef Fabrice Desvignes. The pots arrived after the competition began.
Interview with Kofoed about his new Geranium2 restaurant, scheduled to open this summer.
I received this from the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Geneva, and memories began to surface, of visiting my inlaws in southern Africa, with great braiis and South African wines. I’m wondering where else in the region we can find football served up with good South African food, so add a comment and we’ll make a list if you know of good places.
To let you know the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneva will set up the FloorTwo Bar overlooking lake Geneva, with Super screens, South African dishes, wines and beers.
I don’t know what the Kempinski has planned, but a little googling brought up some old standby recipes for a braii, including Roostekoek, Boerwors, pap en sous, and Sosaties. These aren’t elegant restaurant meals, but down-home recipes from the South African Home School curriculum.
The Indelicato fine food and wine shop is a Geneva institution. Everyone in Pâquis knows Marguerite and Rosario, and the locals affectionately refer to Marguerite as “Mama”.
The attraction is not only Marguerite’s endearing personality, however. The shop offers high quality Italian fare that prompts many wealthy, loyal customers like kings and ambassadors to send their chauffeurs to pick up pasta delivered fresh from Italy twice a week, as well as top quality fruit and vegetables. When Sicilian tomatoes are in season (for instance, now), this is about the only place in Geneva you can get the non-greenhouse type. Several varieties are available for different uses – salads, cooking, etc. When you taste these tomatoes you understand why tomatoes are classified as fruit, because they are as intense and sweet as a ripe red strawberry right off the vine. The Sicilian eggplants are also worth a try; they take on a sweet, almost confit, taste when cooked, and it is not necessary to salt them before cooking.
An ever-changing cornucopia of pasta is on offer – always between 30 and 40 varieties from regions all over Italy. If you’re out to discover something new, try the Trofie alle Castagne, made with chestnut flour, and one of the oldest and most typical pastas from the Liguria region, or the Croxetti, from the historic mountain town of Varese Ligure in the same region, which look rather like large coins with their patterned stamps, a great accompaniment to roasted meat au jus (pour a little of the jus over the pasta).
For olive oil connoisseurs, a wide range from all producing regions is to be had. Balsamic vinegars are not lacking, ranging from simpler, less expensive ones for cooking to exquisite aged ones, such as the 40-year-old Pier Luigi Sereni, tasted by the drop on a ripe red strawberry or a crostini. High-quality condiments and sauces – including a large assortment of pestos and tomato-based sauces, onion jam, Balsamic jelly, red bell pepper jam, just to name a few – make it easy to whip up a quick but delicious pasta dish, or prepare simple but tasty starters or aperitif accompaniments. The jams and confits can also be added to consommés or served with one of the fine Italian cheeses on offer, and to make original crostini and antipasti using the fine selection of ham and sausages.
The wine cellar will transport you immediately from Geneva to Italy. Its traditional Italian-style construction and perfect temperature and humidity control allow Rosario to offer a full range of Italian wine stored under optimal conditions, from affordable, good-quality wines to top-of-the-line wines cherished by collectors.
White wines, such as the Canus Friulano or Pinot Grigio, or the Villa Raiano Greco di Tufo, will provide a pleasant change from French or Swiss varietal wines when served with fish or chicken dishes. Red wines, such as Fontodi‘s rich Vigna del Sorbo, characterful thanks to its 100% Sangiovese varietal composition, or their less intense Chianti Classico, with only 85% Sangiovese and 15 % Cabernet Sauvignon, both go well with grilled meat or pesto dishes, and offer highly affordable options.
In the mid-price range, treat yourself to a Flaccianello della Pieve 2005, with endless layers of fruit and long in the mouth. If your taste buds really pine for more and your pocket allows, try the 1995 Conterno Giacomo Barolo, a classic, or Giuseppe Quintarelli‘s 1993 Amarone della Valpolicella, full of character and intense flavors, somewhat resembling a Madeira or Port yet still characterized as a dry wine, and which can stand up to strong flavors like wild boar or dark chocolate.
Italian gourmet food, wine and catering; delivery for large orders
12, rue des Pâquis
Tel./Fax +41 22 732 4591 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Recipe of the Week:
Trofie alle Castagne pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans
Serves 4 people
2 jars of Genoese pesto for 500 g of Trofie
3 potatoes, cut into thin Julienne strips
75 g of French-style green beans, ends cut off and cut in half
Fresh Parmesan cheese to taste
Boil 3 liters of water, adding salt. Add potato strips and Trofie pasta. Cook for 10 minutes. Add green beans. In a separate pan (I use a wok), heat pesto sauce on very low heat. Cook pasta/vegetable mixture until all is al dente. Drain. Add mixture to warm pesto sauce. Continue to heat on very low heat, turning gently, for 2 minutes. Serve immediately. Season to taste with freshly grated Parmesan.
Wine suggestion: Canus Pinot Grigio or Fontodi Vigna del Sorbo, depending on whether you prefer red or white