Geneva wineries open house day celebrates its 25th year
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Geneva’s Caves Ouvertes, or winery open house day, has good reason to celebrate this year. It is the 25th year of the event and in that short time it has gone from a handful of visitors in 1987 to an estimated 20,000 last year.
The canton pioneered the concept of producers opening wide their doors and inviting in the public to learn more about the canton’s wines, and now others are successfully following suit.
Geneva has 90 wineries, virtually all of them, taking part this year, giving a wealth of options to wine-lovers and anyone who simply wants to explore the region’s wines.
Expect to be introduced to the 2011 vintage, an excellent year, and to meet 2010 wines that have been oaked for several months, all bottled within the last few days or weeks. New this year: a CHF5 souvenir glass that visitors can use, an effort to provide a good solution to the problem of keeping enough clean glasses on hand and to reduce breakages.
The canton has three main wine regions, all in the countryside, but just at the door of the city. The best-known, the Mandemant, lies just beyond Meyrin and includes the villages of Satigny, Russin and Dardagny. The area between the Arve and Rhone rivers includes Lully, Bernex and Soral. The Arve and Lake area covers Jussy, Anieres and Gy.
The TPG pubic transport system in Geneva is participating again this year by providing free shuttle buses, a good idea considering that the alcohol limit for drivers is one (small) glass of wine.
Terrific Terroir, free marketing magazine produced by the canton’s agricultural office, with tips for visiting wineries. Note: a print version is also available from Geneva Tourism, the Pont-de-la-Machine Information Arcade, the Geneva Welcome Centre, the UN Kiosk and OffTheShelf English Bookshop
Review of the new Geneva wines presented officially last week
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.
Updated 15 May
Guest blogger Jonell Galloway, who writes the GL food blog The rambling epicure, takes us to Geneva to sample some excellent wines from around the world.
Kickoff of Switzerland’s spring wine tastings
Claude Berthaudin comes from a long line of winemakers, and has expanded the family business into a distributorship of wines of a quality that only someone “born in the vines” could put together.
His spring wine tasting Tuesday 5 May at the Geneva Beau Rivage hotel offered a well-balanced collection of hand-picked wines from all over the world, including the sought-after Lebanese wine Massaya.
Berthaudin: Geneva and Vaud wines, and it’s a family affair
The Berthaudin family presented an impressive assortment of their own wines, all produced in Geneva and canton Vaud. Sabrina, Claude’s wife, produces very “nice price” wines of a respectable quality, at Le Crêt in Satigny. Her Crêt Barrique was the Guide Hachette‘s 2003 Coup de Coeur – in other words, the judges fell in love with it on first “taste.”
The family collection is extended by their vineyards in canton Vaud, located in Tartegnin-sur-Rolle. The Les Feuillantines line, produced by oenologist John Pernet, offers good quality for the money with their Gewuerztraminer de Tartegnin 2005, for example, which would be a perfect compliment to a choucroute.
Wines from all over Switzerland
Berthaudin is a master at balance. Swiss wines from Valais, Lavaux, Chablais, Neuchatel, Tessin, Zurich and Graubuenden round off his well-composed selection of Swiss wines.
Top names in French wines
Mr Berthaudin is a master consultant for French wines, so there were some top names in attendance, such as Mr Faiveley himself with so many Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru to taste that one didn’t know where to start; Mrs Chapoutier (Chapoutier is the largest organic wine producer in France), with a wide choice of Rhone Valley wines and their exquisite Côte Rôtie, and wines from Provence, the Southwest and an extensive number of Bordeaux with prices to suit all pockets.
A whole world of wine, plus Gosset champagne
Italy, Spain, Portugal Lebanon, Australia, Argentina, Chili, Uruguay, California and Morocco were also not forgotten, although they were grouped on a small table off to the side.
Gosset champagne dates from 1584. It is of an exceptional quality, full of aroma and body, and is bottled in a beautifully shaped, sensual bottle somewhat resembling that of Ruinart. The bottle itself adds a decorative touch to any table.
Gosset champagne makes a change from the usual names, and is a wonderful way to introduce your guests to something a little different.
Definitely something to try, and once again there’s a price for everyone.
An exceptional tasting event
It was an exceptional tasting for several reasons:
- Quality, even in the lowest price ranges
- Variety, not only in terms of Switzerland, but in terms of all wine-producing countries
- Size: not too many wines, not too many people
- Time: from 14:00-20:00, giving people plenty of time to come and go, so it was never overcrowded
- Cocktail and dinner afterwards: see the coming The Rambling Epicure article for more about the gastronomic dinner by Dominique Gauthier, named Switzerland’s top chef of the year for 2009.
You might think of buying the Swiss Wine Guide for help in choosing wines close to home from among this wide variety of wines.
Berthaudin 43, rte des Jeunes, 1227 Carouge, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 732 0626
For some reason I always thought only restaurants used something to stop wine drips, until I had one too many drops of red wine on our wooden table. I used coasters, plates, and on bad days, the handiest magazine or newspaper.
When I was in Kathy Meinen’s shop in Satigny I spotted packets of foil drop stops that you roll up and slip into the bottle top, which I had recently noticed a winemaker using. They’re an inexpensive solution, under CHF5 for two, and of course once I bought them I noticed them for sale everywhere, so perhaps I’m the only wine drinker who kept sanding her wooden table to get rid of wine drips.
A word of warning: if you don’t slip it far enough into the bottle neck the wine pours out in a large arc and you’re likely to overshoot the glass, so pour the first one slowly until you’re used to it.
I sit in the mountains and look out at the white, white world, with more snow than we’ve had in years.
It’s lovely but when I came across photos from Satigny, taken 6 October 2008, I sighed with pleasure at the colours and remembered the smell of ripe grapes that hung over the village.
I was between business meetings, and the weather was suddenly turning cold that late afternoon. The autumn colours of the vines in Satigny were spectacular, some of the finest I had seen in 2008.
It was clear that the leaves would probably not make it through the night and certainly not the week as the wind whipped up and an icy rain began to fall.
A grape grower and his team were working feverishly as the light faded. I kept photographing the splendidly red vine leaves, unsure which grape variety this was.
I too, had to stop as dark fell abruptly. I put my head in at the wonderful shop and tasting room run by Kathy Meinen in Satigny. Her husand Jacques Meinen has been expanding the wine range at his old family winery, Domaine de la Roselle.
I was so charmed and found so many interesting things to buy that I have forgotten what we decided about the grape leaves in the photos. I bought a red blend (see notes from an earlier post on buying Swiss wines) and a barrel-aged Merlot despite some misgivings because Geneva’s Merlots are sometimes excellent, sometimes mediocre. This is one of the very good ones, a reminder that Geneva offers a fine home to Merlot.
The Meinens aptly describe this as a very fruit-forward wine. The nose of cherries is unmistakable, although I quickly found currants as well, but what I enjoyed most was the complexity of this wine. It is a bottle well worth letting breath and serving at 15C to benefit from this richness as it opens up.
Merlot 2006, CHF22, Domaine de la Roselle
Route de la Mandement 112, Satigny
Tel: +41 22 753 1161
Click on images to view larger
The Domaine de Chateauvieux in Satigny, Geneva is a name well-known to lovers of fine dining in the Lake Geneva region. in October its sommelier, Xavier Debloch, won GaultMillau’s title of Swiss Sommelier of the Year 2009, which he shares with a sommelier in Ascona. Patricia Briel, one of Switzerland’s best wine journalists, has written a profile on him for Le Temps, offering him as an example of a new generation of young sommeliers who are less impressed by some of the grand old wines than their predecessors, and who want to share their enthusiasm and passion for good wines without all the snobbery of the past.