This was a chance to taste some leading Swiss wines, which was of interest in part because we don’t often get to see them. These were shown as part of the Indigo Wine USA shindig in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eric Solomon has long had an interest in the wines of Switzerland and has brought quite a few into the USA. It’s a small country with a big thirst for wine (34 litres per head annual consumption). It is surrounded by five wine-producing countries, and is a land of lakes, glaciers, villages and the alps. It’s the source of the Rhône and Rhine rivers, too. There are 15 000 hectares of vines in Switzerland. They drink all the wine they produce and then import a lot too. Just 2% of Swiss wine is exported, and there’s no impetus to export, but some producers want to be known on the world stage. The shift is from quantity to quality, and they’d like some of their top wines in the best places.
There are 6 official regions, and 26 official Cantons. 40% of production is white with Chasselas the key grape, and 60% of production is red (mostly Gamay and Pinot Noir).
Chandra Kurt is a Swiss journalist who’s authored 20 books, and is active in the hospitality scene there. Eric first met her at Dirk Niepoort’s 40th birthday back in 2004. She’s been making wines under her own name for a while now. She’s found growers working with indigenous varieties, and there’s now a Chandra Kurt collection of collaborative wines.
Chandra Kurt Glou Glou 2020 Geneva, Switzerland
This is Chasselas from alluvial clay and gravel soils at 425 m. 2 months in tank. This is bright and lively with nice supple, ripe pear and peach notes as well as fine spiciness and nice acidity. This has such a beautiful mouthfeel, with a bit of fat, but also lovely grainy, spicy structure with good acidity on the finish, which is brought into focus with just a bit of carbon dioxide prickle. Lovely presence here: a great wine for consuming young. 92/100
Chandra Kurt Humagne Blanche 2019 Valais, Switzerland
The Valais is the driest and warmest part of Switzerland viticulturally. A remarkable grape that almost became extinct. This is from clay, limestone and gravel soils at 500-750 m. 6 months in stainless steel. Compact and textured with lovely intensity. This is mineral and taut with some yellow plum and pear fruit, with good acidity. It has a lovely acid line that runs through the dense fruit. Such a characterful and delicious white with good energy, and some saline hints. 94/100
Chandra Kurt Dôle 2019 Valais, Switzerland
Clay, limestone and slate soils, vineyard at 600 m. Pinot Noir and Gamay aged for nine months in stainless steel. This is fabulous: it has a lovely sappy edge to the sweet, slightly autumnal red berry fruit. It has some complexity, with nice spicy note under the red fruits, with lovely finesse. Very fine and expressive with good acidity. So interesting: a beautiful wine with freshness and also some complexity. 94/100
Chandra Kurt Cornalin 2019 Valais, Switzerland
Clay/limestone soils at 500 m, six months in stainless steel. Originally from Italy, Cornalin has moved from the Vale d’Aosta to Switzerland. Just 138 hectares existing, mostly in the Valais. Nice intensity here with vibrant red cherry and plum fruit, and a dry, dusty tannic structure. There’s bright acidity and a touch of pepper, with lovely fruit intensity. This is a serious, characterful wine. 94/100
Clavien is a seven hectare estate that makes 24 different wines.
Clavien Païen Larmes du Terroir 2020 Valais, Switzerland
This is Savagnin Blanc from clay limestone and schist soils at 750 m. Stainless steel. Lovely aromatics with floral, spicy notes and some melon, too. The palate has some lychee and spice with lovely pear and melon character. This has depth but also freshness with good acidity, but also a lovely generosity to the texture. Very fine. 94/100
Clavien Perles du Soleil 2020 Valais, Switzerland
Petite Arvine from clay/limestone and schist at 750 m. Stainless steel. Very pretty and fruity with some jellyish notes. This has lovely texture and a fine spiciness, with expressive floral fruit. Very enticing with lovely fruitiness. 93/100
Based in the Vaud (bordering the Valais), Bovard has created a conservatory for the study of Chasselas, and has 19 different variants of this variety.
Louis Bovard Aigle Cuvée Noe 2019 Aigle, Switzerland
Aigle is an alpine appellation. Chasselas from 800 m, 8-10 months in foudre, biodynamic farming, limestone/gravel soils. Quite dense and powerful with rich pear and white peach fruit. There are some fine citrus notes with a lovely flow across the palate, and a touch of wet wool. There’s a mineral undercurrent even though the fruit is quite ripe and broad. 93/100
Louis Bovard Dézaley Medinette GC 2019 Dézaley, Switzerland
Chasselas from clay/limestone, marl and gravel soils. 10 months in foudre. Powerful, complex and nuanced, with rich pear and white peach fruit, countered by a wonderful spiciness, and finishing with a fine, pretty flourish of jellied fruit. There’s nice richness here but also freshness. Complex, broad and powerful. A remarkable wine. 95/100
These two wines are from Jean-Pierre Pellegrin in Geneva.
Domaine Grand’Cour Blanc 2019 Geneva, Switzerland
Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner, Riesling, aged 6 months in concrete egg. Bright, vivid, lively and intense with juicy pear and yellow plum fruit, with keen acidity. Very lively and brisk with a zippy intensity. 92/100
Domaine Grand’Cour Gamay Sauvage 2019 Geneva, Switzerland
11 months in French oak. Sweetly aromatic with lovely vivid, supple plum and red cherry fruit. Lovely intensity here with a Pinot-like personality, showing direct red fruits and also some nice structure. Very interesting with a bit of grip. 92/100
These two come from Jacques Tatasciore, and they are hard to get hold of.
Domaine de la Rochette Vieilles Vignes 2018 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Pinot Noir, clay/limestone soils, aged in French oak. Beautifully intense and aromatic with bold sweet cherry and plum fruit with a mineral, slightly smoky savoury intensity and some chalky notes. Lovely fruit intensity here with real concentration and focus: this is proper Grand Cru Pinot Noir with red fruits predominant. 96/100
Domaine de la Rochette Les Rissieux 2018 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Pinot Noir, clay/limestone soils, 22 months in French oak. This is mineral and complex with a savoury spicy element to the sweet black cherry fruit. It’s supple, grainy and quite mineral with a sense of elegance, showing nice layered fruit and savoury, dried herb characters. Very refined. 95/100
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