Prize offered to best “student” at tonght’s introduction to wine tasting class!
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – I’ve lined up the six beautiful wines plus one to help us get started for tonight’s “Introduction to wine tasting” class in English at 18:00 at Arvinis in Morges. The class is one hour long and will give you the basics for making a useful and fun tour of the wine fair, with its daunting 2,500 wines that can be tasted.
We’ll be tasting white wines from Vaud, Valais and Geneva, followed by reds from Vaud, Neuchatel and Lebanon.
And one lucky participant will wine a special bottle from one of the wineries whose wines we are tasting!
This is not a shopping expedition – you can order but not buy wines tonight, Vaud law for such events. That frees you up to enjoy yourself, knowing that shipping is quick and easy in Switzerland.
Here are some of the wines we’ll be tasting and discussing tonight. There are a few places left but you’ll need to register ahead, so don’t delay – we have to know how much wine to open in advance.
Two by women
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A reminder that this is your chance to learn the basics of tasting wine, in English, combined with a visit to the Arvinis wine fair Friday night.
I’ll be running the introduction to wine-tasting session at the Arvinis wine fair. We’ll taste five Swiss wines and one from Lebanon, whose producers are the guest of honour at the 2013 fair. We’ll concentrate on the basics – this is for beginners – and I’ll give you some tips for how to visit stands that offer a total of 2,500 wines – how to taste wine, talk about it (you’ll learn a few new French words) remain standing and better yet, remember what you liked!
I think you’ll find it fun and a great way to prepare for the rest of the evening.
Cost of the session: CHF35 (entry to Arvinis, also CHF35, which gives you a glass for tasting at all the stands)
Date: 19 April, from 18:00-19:00. Register online and sign up in advance; last year, the first year it was offered, the class in English was sold out.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – I’ve been following Ta-Nehisi Coates’s rollercoaster ride to speaking perfect French – he writes for The Atlantic, and I’m an old fan of the magazine. I suddenly realized he was going to be spending four days in Montreux, a serious crash course to maitriser la langue even though my sense of Montreux is that it’s better known for people singing, mostly in English! So I began following him on Twitter.
I didn’t have the heart to reply when he said today that 60 million people in France speak French, so how hard can it be? Answer: yeah, but can anyone claim to understand the French?
And then this evening, I realized there is hope for him and his French-speaking future. If I knew where he was I’d get a couple more good bottles to him, real fast, for sharing the ride.
Did not realize the wine in Switzerland was this good. Went to a tasting today. Fool gaffled me for all my Swiss Francs.
— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisi) March 27, 2013
New guide provides useful tool
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Organic wines, known as “bio” in French, and more particularly biodynamic wines, were long regarded suspiciously by many consumers, conjuring up vague (and not quite right) images of hippy wines made with animal horns and consumed with unpalatable brown rice.
Those were the bad old days and happily for winedrinkers and producers of these products, biodynamic wines, identifiable by their Demeter certification labels, are moving into the mainstream of wine production.
A sign of changing public attitudes and broader acceptance of this holistic approach to agricultural products, notably wines, appeared in Switzerland this week, with the launch of a very good French guidebook to biodynamic wines. It was accompanied by a tasting session of some of these wines, made by four Swiss producers.
Jacques Granges of Domaine Beudon near Fully, whose Gamay 2009 is one of the top wines in the book, says the time is right for broader public acceptance and interest in biodynamic wine. The horsemeat scare was important, he says, because it made people question how their food and drink are made, what’s behind the final product, but the trend started before this recent problem.
Guidebook makes it easier to find biodynamic wines, but also rates them
Details: Guide des Vins en Biodynamie, author Evelyne Malnic, publisher Féret, price euros 19.50.
Some 380 wineries were identified for the book; 102 of them submitted 382 wines from the past three vintages for tasting. Of these 92 percent were retained for the book, “an excellent score” according to the author.
The guide includes 19 Swiss wines from French-speaking Switzerland; wine journalist Alexandre Truffer contributed the Swiss section of the book, which may, in future, be expanded to cover a larger part of the country, he and the publisher said Wednesday at the Chateau d’Aigle in Vaud, where the launch was held.
Two of the 19 wines received top scores of five ladybugs (or ladybirds, depending on your English origins). The cheerful and helpful little garden bug is the mascot for biodynamic products.
Domaine de la Liaudisaz in Fully, Valais, winemaker Marie-Thérèse Chappaz, has five ladybugs for her “Dôle” 2011, with the guide noting “Pure pleasure!”
Domaine Henri Cruchon near Morges, canton Vaud, the Cruchon family led by Raoul, has five ladybugs for its “Sidéris” red 2010 blend, described as “aristocratic” and seductive thanks to a perfect marriage of elegance and maturity.
Some of the wineries are less well-known, but if they are included, they are worth exploring.
Mixed feelings remain about biodynamic, in the wine world
Biodynamic wines as a separate group of products is a movement that does not have a consensus of support in the wine world, but for an odd mix of reasons.
Worldwide, many wineries have improved their products in the past 10 years by reducing the use of chemicals and returning to more natural, often older practices in the vineyards. Some of these producers now pooh-pooh the idea that biodynamic carries this to a natural and necessarily better conclusion.
Others, and this is an old cliché that hangs around, ask if organic and biodynamic wines can really be good, because the emphasis isn’t on the wine itself, the quality of the end product.
The good, the bad, the ugly: ask the right question
This is simply the wrong question, says Reynald Parmelin of the domain La Capitaine in Begnins. It makes little sense to ask whether biodynamic wines are good or not, he argues.
“A wine is either made well or it isn’t, and that includes biodynamic ones.” Parmelin, who also has organic wines, was given Switzerland’s Prix Bio for his organic wines three years in a row, 2009 to 2011.
What’s the difference between organic and biodynamic, both of which are sometimes included in the phrase “natural wines”? It depends a bit on who you ask. I asked Raymond Paccot of Féchy five years ago, when he hosted a small group of producers who were discussing biodynamic methods. “Philosophy,” he said, noting that while organic producers use methods that are better for the soil, the plant, the end product, biodynamic requires a commitment to a more holistic approach to the end product and the entire chain of events that leads to wine in the bottle, its place in the natural order of things.
Swiss wineries, among the world’s most environmentally minded
Switzerland is a pioneer in integrated production wines, which, as one grape grower told me a few years ago, is as close as you can get to organic without being there because your small patch of vines is too close to your neighbour’s.
IP became popular in the 1970s and has grown steadily since then. The reason is easy to see. In a country that cannot produce massive quantities of wine because of limited growing space – look at those mountains and lakes! – maintaining the raw material, the soil and plants, in order to have top quality wines, becomes crucial.
Organic wines have strict rules and regulations for certification, and in a country of small vineyards, even those who would like to go the organic route are not always free to do so.
Canton Vaud is now 90 percent integrated production and other cantons have similar rates: it’s safe to say Swiss wine producers are some of the world’s most environmentally minded. IP has become so widespread that most wineries no longer bother using the Vinatura label to show they are certified.
Beyond this, many of the philosopher-wine producers who opt for the biodynamic path are doing this same: yes, being certified is important but no, saying their products are biodynamic is not their main marketing point. Quality is the bottom line.
The new guidebook makes it easier for the rest of us to find the best bottles.
Notes on 3 wines tasted at the Chateau d’Aigle book launch
Domaine Beudon, “Gamay” 2009
This is a beauty – fruity, fresh, vibrant, a wine with real character. Curiously, it was turned down twice for the Gamay AOC, apparently because it wasn’t “typical” enough. If so, that’s a paradox, because it comes from a line of old family vines that were saved and that may represent the closest thing we have to the Gamays of the past in this region.
La Capitaine, “Réserve Gastronomique blanche” 2011
An exquisite blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc that is surprisingly dry while also aromatic. It was designed in partnership with the Lausanne Palace to go with their seafood and shellfish dishes.
Anne Mueller, “Chasselas” from Villeneuve 2011
My first meeting with relatively new winemaker Mueller, who is energetic and passionate and creative, left me wanting to know more. She has wine genes in her family, but spent some years working in special education before the vines called her home. Her Chasselas is a beauty and the guide’s description of pear and rose petals, delicate aromas in a wine with body, is spot on. The woman’s touch here did not go unnoticed!
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Happy news on the wine-tasting front: I’ll be giving two evening sessions in the near future, in English, for those who want to learn more about Swiss wines.
The first is at the Arvinis wine fair where I’ll be running an introduction to wine-tasting session with five Swiss wines and one from Lebanon, the guest of honour at the 2013 fair. We’ll concentrate on the basics – this is for beginners – and I’ll give you some tips for how to visit stands that offer a total of 2,500 wines – how to taste wine, remain standing and better yet, remember what you liked!
I did this last year, but this year I’ll be changing the format a bit, based on feedback from the 25 people I had for the session, and I think you’ll find it fun and a great way to prepare for the rest of the evening.
Cost of the session: CHF35 (entry to Arvinis, also CHF35, which gives you a glass for tasting at all the stands)
Date: 19 April, from 18:00-19:00. Register online and sign up in advance; last year, the first year it was offered, the English class was sold out.
Women only wine-tasting
The second is a very special new tasting session, just for women, which I’m developing with Les Sens Lémanique in Vinzel, and I’m quite excited about it. Women are known in the wine industry to have more perceptive noses than men, but women also tend to take a back seat at tasting sessions, so this is your opportunity to feel more at ease and say what you really think you’re smelling and tasting.
Beginners and women who are familiar with wine-tasting techniques but who want to develop their ability to appreciate wines’ finer points are both welcome.
“Summer blooms, flowers in our wines” will help us focus on what the pros are talking about when they say wines have floral notes. There is room for just 15 of us, making it an intimate session with a chance to really discuss what we’re learning, a key to better understanding wine.
Here’s the description from the web site of Les Sens Lémaniques, which has a growing variety of special courses; register on the site:
“Summer blooms, flowers in our wines”Learning to use your nose to appreciate wines: a small group of women will spend an evening celebrating Spring and exploring floral notes found in Swiss wines – rose, violet, wisteria, etc. – to better understand the basics of wine tasting and to learn more about excellent wines produced here. The emphasis will be on wines from French-speaking Switzerland, tasting 6 wines. We’ll work with bottled smells and real flowers to first identify floral smells in nature and extracts, then move on to the wines and briefly discuss the four main olfactory groups found in wines: vegetable, mineral, animal and empyreumatic (grilled, toasted notes), and how we go from these to some 500 aromatic substances, including floral notes.Wine-tasting presented by Ellen Wallace, editor of GenevaLunch.com online news media, whose blog “Among the Vines” appears on the site. She is also responsible for the English version of the Vinea Swiss Wines app for iPhone and android, the multi-language definitive guide to top Swiss wineries.Date: Tuesday 4 June 2013, from 18.30 – 20.00 (Length 1-1/2 hours)Price: CHF 80.00
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss, for those who don’t know it yet, are very good at whipping up extraordinary gastronomic feasts. Switzerland has 100 Michelin starred restaurants in 2013, one of the highest per capita ratings in the world, and it has local wines that can hold their own at such meals.
It’s not surprising, then, that Swiss wine consumers, with well-trained noses and taste buds, should show a growing interest in older vintage wines. Switzerland doesn’t have a history of large-scale wine aging.
Wineries are mostly family operations and land is expensive and hard to buy, plus sitting on the wine for several years requires a level of investment that small businesses can rarely afford.
Historically, barrel rooms for oaking wine have been a luxury.
This is changing. Swiss wineries are opting for quality over quantity and a greater mix of top-line wines.
My wakeup call on this came in 2009, when I visited Sierre for a vertical tasting session by the Memoire des Vins Suisses group (MDVS), tasting several vintages of the same wine. I had my first Chasselas that wasn’t from the previous autumn’s harvest. I was puzzled, intrigued, and not entirely convinced – but at least I had the good sense to recognize it was because I didn’t understand what to expect from an older white wine.
Then in 2010, the Clos, Domaines & Châteaux group organized a tasting of a large number of older vintages of Chasselas, wines that bore little relation to their light, fresh young versions and that changed my ideas about old vintage white wines.
I had previously assumed only reds could age well, with a few exceptions. Not true.
The Frères Dubois in Cully held a vertical tasting in September 2012, one decade of their Dézaley Vase 4 Grand Cru wines, a wonderful opportunity to see the impact of each vintage on just one wine from one terroir: each was distinct, as they were, clearly, when young. But with age, the distinctive features of each vintage became more apparent.
I saw this again last November when another tasting session of Chasselas wines, a food and wine pairing but with several older vintages, was organized in Lausanne by the Association for the Promotion of Chasselas. A commentary on the wines was made by Jerome Aké, the sommelier at Auberge de l’Onde in St Saphorin, as famous for his poetic descriptions of wines as for his knowledge of Swiss wines (he was the Swiss Sommelier of the Year a few years ago).
Discovering what I like about older white wines
Jerome on the nose of a 1998 Yvorne Chateau Maison Blanche (my translation from his French): “Intense yellow robe with touches of gold and yellow mimosa reflections, good viscosity with tears clearly visible. A complex first nose with notes of citrus fruits and a hint of petrol, evolving towards dried fruits, nuts and fruits soaked in alcohol. After swirling, the second nose takes us down a path of minerals and spice, with notes of damp earth, nutmeg and curry powder.”
The wine in mouth, which he described well, was perfect, leading us to think of Tio pépé and lemons, a well-balanced wine with “remarkable freshness, worthy of great Rieslings as they develop.” The wine’s finish was marked by mineral freshness, making it perfect for fine cuisine.
We had it with coquilles Saint Jacques.
And there, I think, Jerome helped me see what it is I like about well-aged white wines: when they are good, they are surprisingly fresh.
A public new to older vintage wines can find it puzzling and even confusing to taste them on their own: if your idea of a Chasselas is crisp and mineral and very young, you might need complementary food to appreciate a 10- or 15-year-old version of the same wine, with its darker colour, nose of toast and beeswax and roundness in mouth.
Other white grape varieties age well, too
The same is true for other grape varieties, not just Chasselas.
I discovered how well Petite Arvine can age, at the Rouvinez winery in Sierre in August 2012 when the family hosted a vertical tasting session.
Petite Arvine is one of my favourite wines, with grapefruit and sometimes lemon notes and a slightly salty finish that I love (if you’re not into salty finishes, just a note to reassure you: the wine is not salted!).
I found it hard to imagine how it would age well.
The first Chateau Lichten Petite Arvine, from vines on a hillside near Leuk – you drive above them as you head up to Leukebad/Loèche-les-bains – was put on the market in 1994, and we tasted 10 wines from that year to 2010. The 2002 in particular but also the 2004 were startling: lemon and grapefruit notes very much in evidence, and beautifully fresh in mouth.
For a detailed description of the wines we tasted, Lauret Probst wrote a lengthy blog post (French).
A very special vertical tasting took place in Sierre in February, hosted by two members of the MDVS, Denis & Catherine Mercier and Maurice Zufferey, who jointly celebrated the 30th anniversaries of running their wineries. They brought out several vintages from their wine collections for a small group, using the wines as a springboard to discuss their problems and successes in aging different wines.
Cornalin, which today is widely considered one of canton Valais’s most successful native grape wines, was saved from near distinction by Zufferey’s uncle, Claude Calot, with whom he worked as a young wie producer. He has been making Cornalin for several years, and the older vintages were beautiful.
The Nuits des Vieux Millésimes is born
Wine writer Alexandre Truffer had the foresight in 2012 to see that the best way to help wine-lovers explore the growing collection of older vintage Swiss wines would be to have very good chefs create meals around them.
The Nuit des Vieux Millésimes was born: wineries with older vintages join forces with chefs in French-speaking Switzerland for one night and diners can take their pick. The 2012 night was a great success, with 10 restaurants, and this year 15 were part of the project, with long waiting lists for some of the restaurants, all of which offered the special menu and wines Thursday 28 February.
I joined about 80 people at Le Crans in the resort of Crans-Montana, for a meal featuring older vintages of nine sweet wines, a feat I doubted could really work (I was wrong).
Alexandre organized another event last Saturday, an older vintages fair in Morges, where the public could try vertical tastings, several vintages of the same wines, from a number of different producers.
Golden opportunity to taste some, in 10 days in Ticino
The Memoire des Vins Suisses deserves some special credit for encouraging wineries to move in the direction of aging. The group, 50 of the country’s best producers, has created a bank of wines. They each add to the stock of their original, selected wine in the “bank” each year. They share their knowledge of what helps a wine age well when they meet once a year, each time in a different corner of the country, with its own geographic and climatic conditions. They taste the wines to see how they are aging.
And they invite the public in to sample their wines. Put Bellinzona on your agenda, 14 March from 14:00-18:00 for the next Trésors du Vin Suisse tasting session. It’s free if you register in advance online or CHF20 to just show up at the door.
Coming next: How to eat a 9-course dinner and drink 9 sweet wines
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The new Vinea iPhone app guide to Swiss wines comes out at midnight 23 October, meaning, to avoid confusion, if you’re up late Tuesday night you’ll be able to get it in the Apple Store, or the morning of the 24th, for those in less of a rush. Check out Vinea’s Facebook page to have a look – and while you’re on FB, if you haven’t yet visited Ellen’s Wine World say hello and “like” it.
Here’s the press release, giving some idea of what to expect.
I’m responsible for adapting the English version text and although we’re still working on it, I can say I’m quite excited about the project: it will be a wonderful tool for anyone wanting to visit a cellar, find a wine, share the information with friends, etc.
Bread & Butter, the Lausanne company developing it, are doing a great job, so all signs are pointing to a good quality product.
Without further ado, here is what Vinea, the publisher, says in its 10 October press release:
Vinea Swiss Wines, new and free iPhone app
Swiss wine guide of reference!
Debuts on the Apple Store 23 October 2012 at midnight
Number-crunching, mouth-watering, nose-tickling happy wine app for iPhones: countdown 14 days!
Forget about your little black book – starting 23 October 2012 at midnight in the Apple Store you’ll have, in a searchable format with geo map, the basics and more on Swiss wines in general and a pocketful (450) of terrific addresses with useful details for winelovers of all stripes.
It’s free! And it’s a gold mine of information (English, French, German versions).
The Vinea Association, with support from the Swiss Confederation, is offering it to iPhone users in 2012; Android owners will have to wait a year for their version.
Vinea Swiss Wines is your Swiss wine guide of reference whether you’re a wine beginner or pro, knowledgeable about world wines but not Swiss, or the daughter of a winemaker from the heart of Valais wine country who can quickly list more than 30 native Swiss grape varieties.
The heart of the app: 450 top producers who are Switzerland’s pride, selected from among the winners of top wine competitions or named by their peers.
A sampler of questions for which you’ll find the answers: who grows Bondola and what are banquettes, the number of cantons in the Three Lakes region, why some grapes are harvested in winter, what grapes the Swiss use for their award-winning sparkling wines and do Swiss winemakers enter 500 or 3,000 wines in the annual national competition known as the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse?
Note: the iPhone app replaces the widely acclaimed printed Swiss Wine Guide but the 2011-12 version of the book will remain on sale until the end of 2012.
Part 1 of a 3-part mini-guide for the Vinea wine fair
Reminder: Join me for a one-hour Introduction to Swiss wines and guided visit to Vinea, in cooperation with Vinea! Deadline is Wednesday night 29 August to sign up: details and registration on the GenevaLunch donations page; we will confirm your registration by return e-mail.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Faced with the happy option of sampling 1,500 wines by 150 producers from throughout Switzerland, where do you start? The best place is your brain: make sure you have understand some of the basics first.
The Vinea Swiss wines fair runs Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September, the biggest outdoor wine event in the country and the best opportunity to really sample Swiss wines.
Here is a quick rundown on Swiss white wines, including some cliché-busters. I will follow this with information about reds, later today, then a post about other Swiss wines and a practical, how-to guide for Vinea, Thursday morning.
A nation of white wines? The cliché
Switzerland produces mainly white wines. Wrong! The famous Chasselas wine, called fendant in canton Valais, is served regularly as an aperitif wine, giving rise to the idea that white wine dominates. Red grapes cover 58 percent of Switzerland’s vineyards.
Switzerland’s place among world wines
The country has a little more than 14,000 hectares of grapes, only 0.2 percent of world production. It has a very good reputation among international wine specialists for its quality, and Swiss wines regularly appear among top winners at world wine competitions such as the Vinalies in Paris. White wines tend to perform particularly well.
How to read a Swiss white wine label
Swiss wines are traditionally mainly varietal, or single grape wines, and the labels often reflect this, with the name of the grape in evidence.
A major exception is Chasselas, so widely grown in its birthplace, canton Vaud, that you often find only the name of the village, the winery and the fantasy name, meaning one the winemaker selected.
The Chasselas from Cave Beetschen in Bursins, for example, shows the name given to the wine by its owners, Tradition, the name of the winery, and the village. The name gives you a clue as to what to expect, in this case a very good, classic style Chasselas from one of the best wine villages in the canton.
The fantasy name is usually given more prominence for blends, which are increasingly appearing in Swiss wineries’ lineups, as the Swiss become more proficient at blending.
The results of this are, for now, uneven. Some are excellent; others don’t quite make the mark.
Wineries are blending, not to get rid of their excess wines (a question I’ve been asked several times), but to offer consumers new wines that meet changing tastes.
New grapes have been introduced in recent years and these are being tested for blending, sometimes with very good success.
A good starting point is the winners of the “white blends” category in the national wine competition, the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse. The 2012 finalists were announced 22 August.
The main Swiss white varieties, partly a matter of region
Switzerland produces 160 grape varieties, an extraordinary number given the size of the national vineyard.
The explanation lies in the geography of the country, which varies hugely, from the open lakeside near Geneva to the remarkably steep banks of Lavaux at the other end of the lake, to the plains around Vully and the Alpine slopes of Valais and Ticino, not to mention the stretches along Lake Zurich and in the foothills of Graubuenden.
The six main grape-growiing regions each have distinctly different micro-climates. Ticino, for example, has areas in the north with some of the country’s heaviest rainfall and further south the vineyards are more like those of neighbouring Italy.
Climate changes are prompting growers to shift to new varieties; Switzerland has a great advantage over France, for example, in that the legislation allows them more flexibility in this area, although this will begin to change in France in 2013. Geneva is one of the regions that has benefited from this and if you’ve heard the old saw that Geneva’s wines are mediocre, ignore it – the canton suffered briefly in the 1970s and 80s, but it is coming back brilliantly, and its newer grape wines can be beautiful.
In order of their importance, by quantity of grapes grown
Chasselas (well over half), Mueller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Petite Arvine, Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Savagnin and a number of others.
Chasselas is widely grown because it is an exceptional wine for reflecting its terroir, so don’t expect a floral Geneva Chasselas to smell or taste like a fruity mineral one from Vaud or one called fendant from Sierre, where one of its main roles is to help down a fine raclette cheese! And to put paid to the cliches, the top two Chasselas wines in 2012 are from Neuchatel and nearby Vully, both homes to many wonderful wines.
Prices, what to expect to pay
Another cliché that could usefully die is that Swiss wines are expensive. If you’re looking for a CHF2-5 bottle, true, you’ll have trouble finding it. But there are plenty of wines at CHF7-10 that, compared to wines in neighbouring countries, are very good value for money. I just spent three weeks in the US and compared the price range; Swiss wines are priced on a par, matching quality. Good wines in Switzerland, expect to pay CHF12-25. Very fine wines, CHF28 on up, and they are reliably good.
Join GL editor and Swiss wine specialist Ellen Wallace for official guided visit and introduction to Swiss wines, limited to 15 persons! In cooperation with Vinea
GENEVA / ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Vinea, Switzerland’s largest outdoor wine fair, runs on Friday and Saturday this year, 31 August and 1 September. The full programme is now out and here are the highlights, from the organization’s press release:
New this year: the Vinea Swiss wine fair will cover two days, Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September, from 11:00 to 19:00, in the streets of Sierre, where 150 producers will present their finest wines.
The programme for the 19th wine fair will please the general public, winelovers and professionals. Some 1,200 wines, from numerous grape varieties and a wide range of growing situations, will be available for tasting. In addition to home canton Valais’s producers, five other wine regions from Switzerland are taking part in this open air “wine bar” in the heart of the town of Sierre.
Rioja and Geneva are guests of honour
The language of wine is universal, which is why, every year, Vinea invites a foreign guest of honour. Following Sicily last year, the wine fair in 2012 has invited Rioja wines: the largest appellation d’origine in Spain and the one with the greatest reputation. This region, whose wine grape-growing surface area is four times that of Switzerland, produces exceptional wines that the visitor will be able to discover in the streets of Sierre, as well as during a tasting workshop, a “voyage to the land of 1,000 wines”.
Vins de Genève, representing Switzerland’s third largest wine region, is the Swiss guest of honour: dynamic and innovative wine producers, emblematic grape varieties and a workshop that offers the opportunity to taste 17 versions of its very special blends, l’Esprit de Genève.
Taste Pinots from around the world
Vinea is offering lovers of the beautifully subtle and elegant Pinot wines, in all their forms, a chance to sample the award-winning wines from the Mondial des Pinot, to be announced 31 August. This is a special opportunity, not to be missed, to taste and compare the best Pinots that have been selected among the 1,300 wines from 24 countries taking part in this important international competition.
The issues faced by Swiss wines today
Vinea also intends to serve as a forum for reflection, thus the conference and debate on the theme “Dare to go for Swiss wines”. Several well-known figures and leaders from the world of wine will take part in this discussion about the reasons wines from Switzerland are struggling to hold their own against foreign wines in the now highly competitive market. The programme takes place 31 August at 09:30 at the HES in Sierre. Journalist Isabelle Falconnier from Hebdo magazine will lead the debate. To register, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
For every taste
Wine-tasting workshops, free introduction to tasting for young people, a guided visit and introduction to Swiss wines in English, presentation of the famed sweet wines of the Grain Noble ConfidenCiel charter and of the award-winning Lauriers d’Or Terravin wines from canton Vaud, tasting opportunity with the wines from the historical winery Rouvinez Vins: Vinea 2012 has something for every taste and interest on its programme this year.
Visitors to the fair can organize their visit with help from the free iPhone/Android Vinea 2012 application, where they can keep track of their favourite wines.
Newcomers to the world of wine or serious winelovers will both be warmly welcomed at the largest open air wine event devoted to Swiss wines, a fair that is lively, fun and enriching.
International judge, writer and Swiss wine specialist makes your Vinea visit easier
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Join GenevaLunch editor and Swiss wine specialist Ellen Wallace for a personalized introduction to Switzerland’s fine wines during a 70-minute visit Saturday 1 September to the beautiful outdoor Vinea Swiss wines fair, in cooperation with Vinea:
The CHF60 fee will give you a guided hour-long visit with tasting at 6 stands, in English, the background you need to visit the fair on your own for the rest of the day, and it includes the CHF40 passport to the fair, valid until Vinea closes at 19:00.
I’ll be telling you about Swiss grape varieties, how to read Swiss wine labels, why Switzerland is one of the most environmentally-minded wine-producing countries, how to learn more from Switzerland’s hundreds of mainly small and often artisanal but highly professional wine producers.
NOTE: Register promptly (payment options below), as the guided visit takes place when the fair opens Saturday – in order to keep the group together and to be able to discuss the wines, the number of places is limited to 15.
The guided visit is the first of its kind and takes advantage of my considerable experience as a judge at international and Swiss wine competitions, as well as 25 years of writing about wine, with the focus on Swiss wines, including responsibility for the English version of the official reference, Guide to Swiss Wines.
I am currently working on the English version of the new Vinea iPhone app, Vinea Swiss Wines, which will be published 24 October, a comprehensive guide to the 450 best Swiss wines.
Largest outdoor wine event, in a spectacular Alpine setting
Vinea is Switzerland’s largest outdoor wine event, offering the opportunity to sample some 1,200 wines from 150 producers during two days, Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September.
The challenge every visitor faces of deciding which wines to taste, in what order, is magnified for English speakers and foreigners in Switzerland, who are often unfamiliar with Swiss grape varieties, growing conditions, regions and the size of wineries.
Swiss wines have a justifiably excellent reputation among world wines, winning top awards at major competitions such as the Paris Vinalies, but the small size of the country’s production and limited exports mean that they are not well known outside Switzerland.
All the better for winelovers who are in Switzerland!
Vinea offers a number of related events and activities, some included in the entry fee (CHF40), others for an additional fee. I will publish details here Thursday 16 August.
Guests of honour this year are Rioja for the foreign wine region and Geneva for Swiss wines.
Did you know?
Switzerland produces only 0.2 percent of the world’s wine
Every one of the 26 cantons except Glaris produces wine
More red than white wine is produced by Switzerland
Nearly 50 grape varieties provide a wealth of different and beautiful wine styles.
Vinea in Sierre is a two-hour drive or train ride from Geneva, an hour from Lausanne, under three hours from Zurich. A golden opportunity to enjoy Swiss trains and avoid drinking (even if you are good about spitting out the wine you taste) then driving!
How to register
The CHF60 fee, which includes your CHF40 entry to Vinea, is payable in advance to the News in English Association, online via Paypal (which accepts credit cards and other currencies). Or you can pay directly in Swiss francs to our postal account using e-banking, or fill in a blank pink bulletin de versement, available at all post offices