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.
German Pinots make a strong showing
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Wines from Languedoc in France, Valais, Bern and Aargau won the top five awards at the Mondial des Pinots international wine contest, whose results were announced 30 August.
The winners will receive their prizes Friday in Sierre, where 1,500 wines were judged earlier this month by a group of 60 international wine experts.
The public will be able to taste the winning wines Saturday during the Vinea Swiss wines fair in Sierre, part of the offer covered by the CHF40 entry fee.
The top five winners, who will receive Grand or medals:
Vieille Vigne Pinot Noir Barrique, Bielersee 2009, Andreywein winery, Ligertz, canton Bern
La Part des Anges Pinot Noir fût de chêne (oaked) 2010, AOC Valais, Cave des Champs, Miege, canton Valais
Pinot Noir 2011, AOC Valais, Frédéric Dumoulin winery, Uvrier, canton Valais
Aigle Royal Pinot Noir2011, IGP Haute Vallée de l’Aude, Sph Gérard Bertrand winery, Narbonne, France
Alter Berg Tegerfelder Pinot Noir barrique, AOC Aargau 2009, Alter Berg winery, Tegerfelden, canton Aargau
The competition also awarded 99 gold medals, of which 86 went to Swiss wines, the largest group to take part, and 9 to Germany. New Zealand, France, Italy and Austria each had 1 gold medal winner. Within Switzerland, wines from Valais were top winners (37) as well as the largest numbered entered, followed by Vaud (12) and Graubuenden (7).
Another 253 wines won silver. The complete list can be consulted on the Mondial des Pinots web site.
Photos below (click on image to view larger): international judges visit a cheesemaking operation in canton Valais, the staff at the blind-tasting competition ensure that service is perfect and the wines are just right for judging, Terravin wines from Vaud explained to judges from several countries, a group of Italian judges smiles for the camera in Vevey.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Correction: my apologies, but a couple of the wineries listed below are not taking part in the open house days. At Henri Cruchon, where the winery was packed out Saturday morning, they explained that they are already so busy on Saturdays that they could only add to the crowd if they are sure of good weather. Satyr in Begnins is also not taking part. I suggest you doublecheck the list of wineries taking part (pdf), top left on the map,if you’re keen to visit a particular winery. The names below are happily good year round.
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – You’ll need to plan ahead to get the most out of Vaud’s winery open house days, simply because the canton is large and trying to cover all of the regions isn’t really practical in two days. Happily, they are sure to offer the same thing next year.
My suggestion is to start by reading the practical details here, then choosing one or at most two regions per day, not too far apart. For a second day of tasting I would head further afield, to compare two regions, for the wines vary enormously. All you have to do is look at a map to understand why, with some on hillsides that slope back gradually towards the Jura and others in tight sun-drenched terraces perched above Lake Geneva, while yet others have Alpine backdrops and some the softness of the countryside closer to Neuchatel, Fribourg and Bern.
Starting from Geneva and fanning out, here are the wine regions in Vaud – note that the web site for the open house days provides a pdf list of all Vaud wineries that are open, on the site’s cantonal map page.
The size and complexity of the offer is too big to get into here, so let me simply say this: these hillsides are the birthplace of Chasselas, Switzerland’s famous white aperitif wine, and this is a must for tasters, but concentrate on comparing the differences.
Terroir, winemaker, style: they all have an impact and this is anything but a standardized product! But don’t overlook the reds, for there are splendid blends, Gamays and Pinot Noirs here.
Begnins, Domaine La Capitaine has one Vaud’s 11 new Grand Cru wines, and winemaker Reynald Parmelin has been Switzerland’s organic winemaker of the year for three years running. Down the road, at Le Satyre, You can’t go wrong here. Noémie Graf is young, energetic, creative and she is making some of Switzerland’s top award-winning Pinot Noir wines.
Bursins, Cave Beetschen, don’t let the sleek wine bar fool you: this is a family winery par excellence, with sensible prices and an extraoridnary collection. The energy and desire to improve are impressive here. Chateau Le Rosey is a beautiful spot, worth a visit for that alone, and owner Pierre Bouvier works closely with friend and neighbour Yves Parmelin, whose winery is also well worth a visit. Check out the velvety reds, mmm.
Echichens, above Morges by the hospital, is home to Henri Cruchon and family, and this is a must-stop. Henri is one of Switzerland’s top winemakers, a member of the Memoire des Vins Suisse, a delightfully generous man and the wines are exquisite. Some 20 grape variety, biodynamic and you’ll have trouble leaving, so schedule a return trip!
Fechy, I’ve written so much about this village I fear I’m repeating myself. Stop at Domaine La Colombe, where Raymond Paccot, one of the best winemakers in Switzerland bar none, makes one of my favourite white wines, a Pinot Gris. Down the road is the Kursner Brother wineries, with space or kids to play while you sample a wide range (try the bubbly).
Fully, I’m a huge fan of the Frères Dutry, whose beautiful Romaine line with Gamay and the inky Gamaret are complemented by a fine rosé.
Givrins, Philippe Bovet, one of the classiest and finest new winemakers around, who has a good understanding of what a new generatin is looking for. You can’t go wrong here.
Morges has a host of things going on, with discounts to the nearby iris gardens if you have a passport and beginner’s wine tasting sessions on the BAM train parked at the train station.
Nyon, most of the winemakers are coming together at the chateau, so you’ll have an easy time here.
Tartegnin is planning a cheese party for the weekend, to complement its wines, with some fine cheese on the menu, from Gruyere. You can do a shuttle loop to Mont-sur-Rolle, Rolle and Perroy, with a number of good wineries in each.
St-Prex, Domaine de Terreneuve, David Kind speaks English, sells his fine wines at prices that some would say are too low for the very good quality, and the setting, with 200- and 300-year-old trees, is magnificent. Peaceful, well worth a visit and a great address for future orders.
Côtes de l’Orbe and Bonvillars (2 regions) plus Vully
These are the wineries in the Yverdon area. A truly wonderful winery that is worth the trip is the Chateau de Valeyres, whose owner Benjamin Morel works with his childhood friend Frédéric Hostettler. The young duo are creative, talented and making a name for themselves in wine circles. is great fun as well and really wants to know what visitors think. If you can corner him for a minute you’ll learn a lot about wine. This is the soft side of Swiss scenery, with lovely rolling hillsides, nearby lakes and snowy peaks in the distance. Very, very pleasant.
Côtes de l’Orbe
Caves d’Orbes, Yves Monnier and the Chateau d’Eclépens, with the latter a member of the Clos, Domains & Chateaux group of very good wineries with historic homes. I particularly like some of the reds made by Francois and Georges de Coulon at the chateau, and the prices are a bargain for what you get. Francois speaks English and his enthusiasm for his wines is infectious; he is great fun as well and really wants to know what visitors think. If you can corner him for a minute you’ll learn a lot about wine.
This region is tiny and at the northeastern tip of Lake Neuchatel, so it would be easy to miss – but you shouldn’t miss it because Môtier has the Cru de l’Hôpital winery whose young winemaker Christian Vessaz has been catapulted into being called one of the best in the country. He’s a serious environmentalist and a perfectionist when it comes to making wines. I love his Pinot Gris and his red blend is beautiful. Someone to encourage, by all means.
If you haven’t heard of this yet, I would be very surprised. This hillside, now a Unesco World Heritage site, was spotted by monks more than 1,000 years ago as the perfect place for vineyards, and they were not wrong. The region is so dense with vineyards that I can’t begin to offer suggestions, except to say two I’ve loved lately have been Patrick Fonjallaz in Epesses and Domaine du Daley high up on the hillside in Lutry. And then there is Louis Bovard, whose wines are very special and exported to top restaurants around the world, in Cully. But I’m leaving out at least 100 great winemakers, I think!
Visiting Lavaux is all about exploring: the hillsides, the villages, the wines, the views. Just let yourself go.
This is the beautiful wine country around Villeneuve and Aigle, at the east end of Lake Geneva, with spectacular Alpine vistas behind the villages and towns. It is wine country par excellence and a good place to start seeing the impact of geography on wine. This is where the glaciers left their mark, where the Rhone meets Lake Geneva, and where more rain falls than in nearby Valais or along the Lavaux stretch above Lake Geneva.
You’ll find magnificent Chasselas wines here, and I suggest making tracks to the Artisans Vignerons Cooperative in Yvorne as well as Domaine de l’Ovaille in the same beautiful village. Don’t miss the Chateau d’Yvorne, justifiably famous for its wines. Shuttles between Aigle and Yvorne, both noted for their good restaurants, so build in lunch here.
Aigle is home to the old, large winery called Henri Badoux, famous for its Les Murailles Chasselas, a fine example of the minerality in this grape for which Vaud has a great reputation. Head winemaker Daniel Dufaux is the president of the Swiss Oenologists Association and the winery’s range is both large and very good. I like their Viognier, but definitely try some of the top of the line reds if you can.
Aigle has a very good wine museum at its Chateau and the village’s charming, winding little lanes among stone walls, moving out from the chateau, make for good walks (mostly flat). Expect plenty of music this weekend.There are plenty of small, good wineries here, one of which is run by mother-daughter team Christine and Stéphanie Delarze, whose tree-shaded garden alone is worth the visit, and Stéphanie speaks English. Ask her about the latest wine Dou-dou.
Villeneuve, at the tip of Lake Geneva, is celebrating its main festival of the year, with music all weekend, a big market with local products and its wines at the centre of the party.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Valais wines took 15 medals, 10 percent of the total, at the Syrah du Monde competition at Château d’Ampuis, France. One gold medal went to the Gregor Kuonen winery in Salgesch/Salquenen and silver medals went to 14 other wines, with 11 wineries given medals. Of the 445 wines entered, 149 were given gold, silver or bronze medals. The countries of origin for the top 10 wines (actually 14 because of ties), based on the number of points: South Africa, Australia, France, Chile and Portugal.
All but four of the wines are oaked. The winners and their wines:
|Valais AOC Sélection J’François Kuonen 2010|
GREGOR KUONEN – CAVEAU DE SALQUENEN
Mr KUONEN François
Syrah du Valais “Classique” 2009
Valais AOC – Tonneliers Syrah 2010
Syrah du Valais “Madame de” 2010
Martigny AOC Syrah – Les Serpentines 2009
Valais AOC “Collection F” Syrah 2009
Valais AOC Syrah Elevé en Barriques 2010
Valais AOC Grandmaître Syrah 2011
Valais AOC Grandmaître Syrah 2010
Valais AOC Syrah Réserve 2009
Valais AOC Les Larmes d’Héraclès Syrah 2011
Valais AOC Primus Classicus Syrah 2011
Valais AOC Syrah Fût de Chêne 2010
Valais AOC Clos Combe d’Uvrier 2009
Valais AOC Syrah 2011
MORGES, SWITZERLAND – A couple people have said what they would really like are some suggestions about how to visit Arvinis and a) not end up drunk and b) learn something about wine c) while enjoying themselves.
The problem with any wine fair is that it’s daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with many of the wines.
Here are my suggestions, valid for any wine festival or fair where the offer is bigger than your body can handle:
- Do look at the English version of Arvinis‘s site, where you’ll find a map, information on the guest of honour (Swiss Wine Promotion) and the list of exhibitors, to start.
- Decide before you go how to limit yourself, because with 3,000 wines available for tasting you’ll be lost if you walk in and start with the first one, moving in a straight but increasingly crooked line.
- Spit it out! This is crucial, because once you’ve drunk one glass of wine you can’t really do justice to the others; you simply won’t be able to taste them accurately and really judge them. Everybody spits; that’s why the crachoirs/spitoons are there. Just grab it if it’s not next to you, and use it. Tip: Keep a tissue handy if you’re not used to doing this and worry about dribbling.
- Some people opt to just taste white wines, others to do just red wines. Every stand offers both, so be disciplined and stick to your plan.
- Some old hands like to do it geographically, maybe sampling wines from 5 neighbouring towns and villages. The easiest way to do this is to open the pdf document on the exhibitors’ page, then note the location of the wineries. They are listed here alphabetically but each entry shows the region or sub-region, such as La Côte in Vaud or central Valais.
- I like to pick grape varieties and sample wines made from the same grape from a group of producers. If you want to try this Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc or for those who like very dry wines Sauvignon Gris work for the whites. Try Pinot Noir, Gamay and Gamaret for the reds. These are all widely grown in Switzerland, so you’ll have plenty of options.
- Take notes. Write down anything you like, or do like the pros and try to note what you smell (aromas of rose or apple or pear or hmmm, rubber?) and then what it feels like in your mouth (racy, smooth, big and fills your mouth, tannins pinch your mouth dry?). But mainly, make a note of what you don’t like and what you love. Tip: I photograph the wines I like with my cell phone, so I don’t have to note label details.
- Ask questions. What does the winemaker find in the nose (always a good question if you don’t trust your own nose)? Is it oaked, meaning it has spent some time in wood, or how soon is it bottled after the harvest? What was 2011 like as a vintage for this wine? Don’t be afraid to say you know nothing or next to nothing; wine producers love that as it gives them a chance to explain their wines.
- Spit it out! This is the most important rule, so I’m repeating it. You’ll enjoy the wine more, believe me. And save your favourite for last, going back and trying it again, and this time, feel free to drink it. But just one, if you’re driving (and I hope you’re not).
A note for Arvinis: wine producers come from a number of countries and this is a good opportunity to compare Swiss wines to those from other countries. Keep in mind that the downside of wine point systems such as Robert Parker’s is that while they might help us decide what wines are good value, they encourage us to compare wines when we shouldn’t: one of the great glories of the wine world is its diversity. Enjoy the differences!