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.
Morges, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Arvinis has made overtures to English-speaking winelovers in the past, but this is the year when the region’s major wine event, one of the largest in the country, opens its doors wide to the local international population. The web site is now in English and the special events include a Sunday evening wine tasting course in English.
Arvinis brought 22,000 visitors to Morges in 2010 and is expected to at least equal that this year. The April wine fair runs every year about the same time as the sudden flowering of the 100,000 tulips for which the park in Morges is famous. The wine fair offers an opportunity to sample the newly bottled white wines from 2010 and recently bottled reds from 2009, for the first time.
The Pays d’Oc is the guest this year, and they are bringing along an interesting collection of wines to sample. I’ll be reviewing these here before Arvinis opens. The region has put the accent on varietal wines, showcasing a number of grape varieties. There are some excellent surprises on offer.
Swiss 2010 was a terrific year
I have tasted a number of 2010 wines, barely into the bottle, in recent weeks, from Geneva to Vaud and, last week, in Graubuenden. The wine industry’s enthusiastic promise that 2010 is not a letdown after the excellent 2009 is right on target: there are a lot of beautiful wines from last year! Weather conditions were just right to create wines of interest, sometimes less rich than 2009, but generally it was a year that allowed the terroirs to come through well for the whites and that allowed the reds to develop good intensity in many parts of the country.
Introductory winetasting class in English
Sunday evening, Rodrigo Banto will be offering an introduction to wine tasting, in English. Registration in advance is a must: CHF35. I’ve met Banto on several occasions and his English is very good, his knowledge of wine excellent. He is the oenologist at Uvavins, one of the region’s largest wineries, a cooperative of some 400 producers, which has an well-deserved reputation for producing some top wines and an overall good mix.
- dates: 13-18 April
- hours: 16:00-22:00 during the week, Saturday 11:00-22:00 and Sunday 11:00-20:00
- location: next to the train station in Morges
- entry: 2,500 wines for CHF30 or CHF60 for the six days, if you’re going about this seriously. Visa, Master Card and Post Finance cards accepted.
Use public transport! It’s easy, there are plenty of options and you can avoid drinking and driving.
Lausanne, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Put these dates on your wine-tasting calendar, with 2010 whites freshly bottled in Switzerland:
Whet your appetite as the tasting season opens by learning more about Chasselas, aka fendant in canton Valais: the Wine museum in Sierre, canton Valais, has a wonderful lecture series and 7 April you have a chance to hear José Vouillamoz, genetics specialist, talk about the true origins of Chasselas. He lectures in French, but his English is very good, if you have questions you want to put to him. Thursday, 7 April at the Musée du vin et des vignes in Sierre, Château de Villa, Sensorama, 20:00. Price, CHF25, firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 027 456 3525.
Arvinis, the big regional wine fair in Morges, is where everyone goes to try the newly bottled vintage, and 2010 is definitely a year worth sampling. The guest wine-producing region this year is the Pays d’Oc in France. If your first reaction is to think of those seas of poor quality wine that washed over Europe 25 years ago, part of a sad story of over-production, think again. I tasted these wines last week and was very happily surprised to see how well their move towards varietal (single grape) wines is working. Details to follow but for now note the dates: 13-19 April, in Morges, canton Vaud.
Memoire des vins suisses (hurry to make this one!) in Bad Ragaz, a golden opportunity to try Swiss wines as they age. This is a small group of some of the country’s best winemakers who have created a bank of their finest aging wines, and once a year they meet to taste and comment on the wines as they get older. The wines are also available to the public, as part of this moveable feast. I’m on the train, en route to the event, and will be reporting back in the next couple of days, so if you couldn’t rush to Bad Ragaz, your loss, but I’m happy to share my notes on winemakers and their goods here.
Kursaal du Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, 7310 Bad Ragaz, 15:00-19:00, Thursday 31 March
Two smaller, local wine-tasting events are coming up, closer to home if you’re in the Lake Geneva area, and great opportunities to discover more about wine:
Simon Hardy has started a new business in recent months, Fitting Wines, that helps you find personalized wine solutions. He is organizing the first of what he promises will be regular Sunday brunches: Sunday 17 April 2011 from 11:30 – 14:30, at Caveau Orpheus, Rue des Terreaux 16, 1095 Lutry. Details and more on Fitting Wines
Leman Events has organized a wine-tasting session at the new Vinorama in the heart of Lavaux (Unesco World Heritage site): a presentation by François Margot in English about the relationship between Lavaux and Unesco, with a film showing one year in the life of a wine producer from the region. Light buffet and five wines, selected from some of the 200-plus Lavaux wines. 12 April, details.
Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Filip Opdebeeck was struggling three years ago to convince people that his idea of renting out space to store wine in a former bank vault on the Rue du Rhone in Geneva would work. He was certain the city holds enough people living in apartments without decent wine storage space, who like good wine, want to own bottles and be able to select one for dinner. I wrote an article about him after meeting him at Arvinis, the wine fair in Morges in April 2007, where he was working with Domaine des Muses, one of Switzerland’s top wineries. A lot of potential clients, he told me when I met him, would be people working in the financial industry in Geneva – people who would understand about risk, consumption, and who would enjoy the idea that they were either getting pleasure from drinking their fine wines, or enjoy the investment risk of stocking some that might go up in value.
Your average Geneva wine-lover has nowhere to store fine bottles at home
But he was adament that it was not just a well-heeled group of investment-oriented people or snobs who would buy his idea: he was looking for those who simply love good wine and have nowhere to store it properly, and who want to have access to their wines. I was struck by his arguments, for I spent seven years in apartments in Paris where there was no space and the temperature was always far too warm to keep good wine. I wrote about wine and traveled in France, and to my great frustration buying a bottle that would be good in two or three years was never an option. Buying six was even less of an option!
When I moved to Switzerland I lived in an apartment that came with a cave, or storage room, but the building’s heating pipes ran through it. I mistakenly stored what should have been a beautiful top line 1981 Bordeaux there, which taught me a sad lesson.
The ex-pat who leaves town can’t always take his wine with him
Opdebeeck believed another group in the Geneva area would be interested: expats who have bought fine wines while living in Switzerland, then move away. They store their wines with him, paying a reasonable monthly fee. They can ask him, from abroad, to add to their holdings and ship in small or large quantities, as desired.
Those among the international population who have discovered the beauty of learning about Swiss wines by traveling around the country and bringing back a carton each time, the Geneva storage vault offers a nice option for managing their stock. Opdebeeck knows his fine Swiss wines, as well as world wines.
Opdebeeck called the business, which he opened in 2007, Au Bonheur du Vin.
One part of it is a bourse, where people can buy or sell their wines. Opdebeeck, who is an oenologist and who earlier worked as a rep for some of Switzerland’s best wineries, counsels buyers.
His faith in the business model has paid off, if the New York Times has it right, and in any event the article which has just appeared, featuring his buy-store-have delivered business is bound to be a wonderful bit of publicity for this young (30) entrepreneur. Bravo, Filip!
Update 21:30 I’ve started tweeting wineries + 1 type of wine for each, some of my top picks among the Swiss wines at Arvinis, in addition to the California and selected Swiss tasting notes I’ve already posted here. It’s always hard to decide which ones are worth a stop and once there, what wines to taste. I hope that sharing my shopping list of good Swiss winemakers and a personal favourite among their wines will simplify the hard work of tasting in Morges!
Consider signing on as a GenevaLunch follower on Twitter or getting the rss feed. I’ll be posting about 20 10 (enough!) of these in total by Saturday night.
I haven’t noted which are white or red, dry or sweet, so in order of tasting, try this: whites – Chasselas, Fendant (same grape, just Valais), Ermitage, Johannisberg, then reds – Pinot Noir, blends, then sweet whites – Amigne (ask what the bees signify), Malvoisie late harvest.
Arvinis is Switzerland’s largest wine fair, a great idea that has been refined over the years. I went to the first one in 1996 and, having learned about wines in Paris, where I lived for several years, I was taken aback at the complete lack of snobbery. Switzerland may well be one of the best places on Earth to learn about wine because the wine is good, often excellent, and a high proportion of Swiss grow up surrounded by vineyards. As children they walk to school watching life among the vines as the seasons change. Wine is not exotic and mysterious. It is a pleasant part of daily life. In contrast, far more French people grow up with wine on the daily table, but little experience of vines and vineyards, so talk about wine