LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Those beautiful late-harvest wines for which Switzerland is gaining such a world reputation is part of the influence behind a new Swiss-based product, Nestlé’s limited edition Naora Grand Cru coffee capsules.
Nespresso spent two years working with the National Federation of Colombian Coffee Growers “to perfect the technique which was heavily influenced by oenology”, the company notes.
The coffee, with blackcurrant and blueberry notes, comes from Colombia’s northern Andean regions of Santander and Tolima, known for mild, sweet coffees, delicate in the cup due to high growing altitudes.
The following, from Nespresso’s press release, will sound familiar to fans and growers of late harvest wines:
“selected Colombian Castillo coffee bean ‘cherries’ are left to mature on the plant until the last possible moment, giving them a distinct taste.
“The ‘late harvest’ technique requires tight control of growing conditions to ensure the beans are picked when they have reached optimum maturity.
“Even a few days delay past that point can affect the taste and mean the whole harvest is wasted.”
Alexis Rodriguez, the company’s green coffee expert in Colombia, says “Our goal was to expand the boundaries of taste to create a totally new flavour. With Naora, we have succeeded in translating a process used in viniculture for the world of coffee.”
Castillo cherries were chosen for the new coffee capsules because, according to Nespresso, “It is one of the rare Arabica coffee varieties that can overripe while staying attached to the branch, thus acquiring a maximum of nutrients and allowing aromas to better develop. Rigorous controls were implemented to guarantee that the coffee cherries could mature until the last possible minute before being picked, while avoiding the high risk of fermentation or mould.”
Timing is crucial and the 1,100 coffee growers who joined the project were obliged to adopt new harvesting practices.
“Initially it was a challenge for them to work so radically differently than they have for generations – picking cherries that are violet instead of red,” says Rodriguez.
The name Naora combines the English word now with its Spanish translation, ahora.
The coffee capsule’s launch is accompanied by two white porcelain tactile espresso cups and saucers for CHF40, illustrated by French artist Laurence Bost at creative studio Onze Dixieme in Paris.
For those who like their coffee in food form, the company offers a couple of appealing recipes. I confess I haven’t tried this one; I plan to wait for the garden fruit to ripen and we don’t yet have flowers on the branches, so it will be a while.
Recipe: Forest Treat
40 cl fresh raspberry coulis
2.5g d’alginate or 3 gelatine sheets
1 scoop of yoghourt ice cream
1 Naora espresso
2 ice cubes
2 Ritual water glasses
1 siphon for the whipped cream or the espuma
Mix the raspberry coulis with the alginate or with the gelatine sheets (previously
dissolved in hot water).
Put the mix in a siphon and leave the preparation in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Put 40ml of Naora espresso and 2 ice cubes in a shaker. Shake until the ice cubes
Serve in one of the glasses.
Put a scoop of yoghourt ice cream in the other glass and make sure that it covers the
bottom and that the surface is flat.
Add the raspberry espuma on top and serve.
Here’s what I’m opening for New Year’s Eve: three bottles I don’t know, none of them old, because I like to look forward at this time of year.
I know and trust the producers and will enjoy learning something new about their work. I think celebrating a new year should mean reminding ourselves to be open to new ideas, activities, sensations and emotions.
To begin, Nuit Blanche from the Grégor Kuonen winery in Salgesch/Salquenen, CHF28.90 from Manor.
This is a wine whose name means “sleepless night,” which seems a good starting point for the evening of the 31st!
It is a Pinot Noir vinified as a white wine, which produces a wine aged in oak (not that common with Swiss white wines) that is golden white with a pink blush, described by the winery as a fresh, spicey wine.
With the meal, Pinot Noir du Valais AOC Réserve des Administrateurs, CHFfrom the Cave Saint Pierre in Chamoson, part of a line of best grapes-best vine parcels for each of the grape varieties this large cellar produces. It’s described as a wine that is robust (will keep well), fruity, elegant and with a good nose. On the palate: powerful, generous, full yet subtle and with a velvety finish.
And after, with walnuts from our friends’ tree, which we’re having in place of dessert, a late harvest wine, Angeline, CHF12.50 at Manor for 37.5cl, from Provins in Sion, Valais, whose chief oenologist Madeleine Gay is a specialist in sweet wines. This is a very large Swiss cellar, a cooperative that will rid you forever of the idea this means inferior quality. It has built an excellent reputation over the years and is racking up numerous prizes for several of its wines.
Given that Switzerland produces some of the world’s finest sweet wines, especially late harvest wines, and that Madeleine Gay was in November named Switzerland’s winemaker of the year, I feel that we’ve come to the source. Angeline is a blend of three white grape varieties, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Marsanne. It’s won several awards, including gold at the major Vinalies de Paris 2008 competition. It’s described by Provins as voluptuous, with a nose of honey and almonds.
Hard to resist ending the year on that note.