VINEA Association’s mission is to serve wine producers and wine lovers, and to facilitate the flow of information between these two groups. With this in mind we have created a blog to highlight developments in wine production and consumption, as well as trends from the wine world.
Published weekly, it will feature tasting notes for award-winning Swiss wines and information about the men and women who make them, upholding the reputation of our fine wines; leading Swiss commentators will also publish their thoughts about the latest wine sector news on a regular basis.
We hope you enjoy reading the blog, and that you will find it informative.
The custom of offering hospitality to passing guests is the reason why glacier wine was born. This unusual white wine – emblematic of Val d’Anniviers – is matured for decades in larch barrels, and illustrates the wealth of nomadic traditions inherited from Valais inhabitants of the past.
« To drink glacier wine you have to leave the plains and head deep into the Val d’Anniviers… This wine with its delicate perfume is drawn from a beautiful old barrel covered in dust. These are owned by upright farmers, not the lawyer elite. »
This translation of a popular French-language song summarises the most unique characteristics of Valais wines pretty well.
This oxidised white has been made in Val d’Anniviers above Sierre for several centuries. The winemaking technique used (which is not found anywhere else in Switzerland) is the Spanish solera process: the wine – pure Rèze until the early 20th century, then blends of this traditional Valais white variety with Ermitage – is placed in larch barrels and left there for many years. The liquid which evaporates naturally or is drunk is replaced with younger wine. Where there are multiple barrels stood alongside each other, such as in the Bourgeoisie de Grimentz cellar, wine from the oldest barrel (the famous bishop’s barrel, which was first filled in 1886) is topped up with wine taken from the second oldest barrel (1888), into which is decanted wine from the 1934 barrel.
The nutty and turpentine notes characteristic of glacier wine are not to everyone’s taste – especially given that although the villages of Val d’Anniviers have generally been able to maintain the quality of this speciality, many individuals keep a private barrel of extremely varying quality in their house or chalet. Whilst some professional winemakers were still selling bottles of vaguely authentic glacier wine a few years ago, tradition dictates that this wine is not bottled but instead drunk exclusively in the cellar.
Today, glacier wine remains a living tradition which is respected by families who have not forgotten that mutual aid has long been the only way of living in symbiosis with rather unaccommodating nature. Long derided by wine enthusiasts, this oxidised wine born of a nomadic tradition is now one of Valais wine tourism’s assets.
(By Swiss Wine Promotion, published in VINUM, Special publication 2017 N°5)
Vini e Distillati Angelo Delea SA, Losone Ticino
Starting from scratch 33 years ago, Angelo Delea has created one of the Ticino region’s leading wineries with a complete range of top quality, highly original wines, a remarkable distillery and a spectacular barrel cellar.
The wine list is vast and the wines are regularly awards medals: 2017 was no exception, with no less that four gold medals and one silver at the Mondial du Merlot, and two awards (Best White Wine in Show for the second year running, for Chiar di Luna 2016, and Best Blend for Diamante Rosso 2013, also for the second year running). An impressive track record indeed!
«We make wines in the Bordeaux style, similar to fine Bordeaux wines aged in French oak, » comments Angelo. Renowned for his creativity and always on the look out for new ideas, he continues: «We’ve been making our own Spumante since the 1990s, I imported and planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir clones from Champagne to do this. » The domaine’s star wine is undoubtedly their very successful Merlot, available in both red and white versions, but nowadays there are many others made from lesser known, original varieties, as well as blends. Happily, the family flag will continue to fly at Vini & Distillati Angelo Delea thanks to sons David and Cesare who are both very much involved in the business.
The Annual General Meeting of the Fédération Mondiale des Grands Concours Internationaux de Vin et Spiritueux (VinoFed) was held in Madrid on March 10.
VINOFED is the reference in international wine competitions. With observer status at the Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin (OIV), VINOFED collaborates in the development and revision of OIV Standards for International wines and spirits as well as guidelines for competitions. Vinofed obtains OIV patronage for its members. VINOFED audits each competition to exacting standards.
The aim is to ensure absolute credibility for VINOFED members and to ensure the authenticity and high quality of wines and spirits that obtain awards, and to give them the right to carry the VINOFED label.
VINOFED gives the producers the assurance that its products have been assessed according to well-defined guidelines by competent international tasters. It strengthens consumer confidence by guaranteeing the quality of award-winning products.
This Fédération currently regroups 14 major competitions from around the world as following:
“Asia Wine Trophy (Daejeon, South Korea), Bacchus (Madrid, Spain), Berliner Wine Trophy (Berlin, Germany), Citadelles du Vin (Bordeaux, France), International Wine Challenge (Buccarest, Romania), Mondial des Vins Extrêmes (Aosta, Italy), Mondial du Merlot et assemblages (Sierre, Switzerland), Mondial des Pinots (Sierre, Switzerland), Les concours des Grands Vins Blancs du Monde (Strasbourg, France), Portugal Wine Trophy (Bairrada Portugal), Premios Zarcillos (Valladolid, Spain), Sélections Mondiales du Canada (Québec, Canada), Vinagora (Budapest, Hungary), and Vino Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)”.
Newly elected, during the General Assembly, François Murisier, past president of the VINEA Association, will now chair the federation.
Its secretariat is entrusted to Elisabeth Pasquier and Daniele Maffei from the VINEA Association.
The 2018 diary of VINOFED member competitions is available at http://www.vinofed.com/category/calendrier/
Mauler et Cie SA
Sparkling wines, that synonym for festive occasions, is the specialty of this winery, and has been for 180 years.
Jean-Marie Mauler now oversees the family business: their cellars are mostly in the historic Prieuré Saint-Pierre, which is well worth a visit. Sparkling wines here are made traditional style, as done in Champagne, with an added value: “The human aspect of work matters very much to me,” he says. “This should be reflected in our products.” This means ecological grape cultivation and wine of impeccable quality, but also the way the firm treats its employees and a “democratic”, or affordable pricing system. His favorite from this good range of wines is named after his great-grandfather, Cuvée Louis-Edouard Mauler. “True luxury is taking the time to enjoy a fine sparkling wine, with someone you want to share the pleasure of it with”.
Many medals have already been bestowed and yet more were won in 2017 thanks to Cuvée Bel Héritage Brut 2012 (3rd place in the Swiss Sparkling Wine category of the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse competition). In fact, this wine scored a double whammy: it took the Best Sparkling Wine award at the Mondial des Pinots 2017.
Bel Héritage 2012, Mauler et Cie SA, Môtiers NE
« A truly charming wine, with a golden robe and fine bead. Aromas of white fruit, particularly Mirabelle plums, with a touch of white pepper and brioche. Vibrant, with good acidity and a creamy mousse, this highly adaptable wine will suit a variety of occasions.»
The 4th edition of “The Face of Swiss Wine”
Every year since 2015 VINEA publishes a brochure showcasing around 50 wine producers chosen from amongst the 500 Swiss growers featured on the VINEA Swiss Wine app. The 4th edition of the brochure presents 48 new faces from the Swiss wine scene.
Switzerland is a small wine-producing country but what it lacks in surface area, it more than makes up for in terms of quality, with outstanding wines that stand head and shoulders alongside those of the international scene.
Switzerland is a land of surprises and contrasts, where both olive trees and glaciers have their place, where vineyards rub shoulders with towns, and where international grapes and local historic varieties are proudly grown.
The sheer beauty of Switzerland’s wine-growing regions is breathtaking, as is the quality, authenticity and above all, the diversity of the wines made here: 250 different grapes are grown on just under 15,000 hectares (0.2% of the world’s surface area of vines). This unique richness is shaped by the creativity and perfectionism of its producers. As you turn the pages, you will discover (or perhaps rediscover) the artisans who craft Switzerland’s vineyards. They are grouped here by specific grape variety but naturally they make other wines as well, all of which can be enjoyed in situ.
Valentin Schiess is a globetrotting oenologist as well as a wine grower in Jenins (Les Grisons): his winery is in the center of Basel. Here he makes fine wines from his vineyards in Les Grisons, Valais and even… Argentina. In Jenins he grows Pinot Noir, of course, but also Gamaret – and he is the only grower in the region to have this variety. “I’m very pleased with this grape, it gives colour, quality tannins and great aromatics”, he tells us. Proof of this can be found in his Gamaret Jeninser, a wine made with dried grapes in the style of an Amarone. “Gamaret also works very well with Pinot Noir”.
His Valais blend A Priori (Humagne Blanche and Petite Arvine) was voted Best white Blend at the Grand Prix du vin Suisse 2017. Well worth tasting are his Malbec el Polizòn (from Mendoza) and Quintus, a blend of Gamaret and Pinot Noir from various vineyards in the same country.
This is certainly quite an unusual domaine, for sure!
Apriori 2016, Vinigma, Basel :
«A harmonious blend of Humagne Blanche and Petite Arvine. A nose of grapefruit, greengage and pear, on the palate it is stylish and elegant, with a long, fruit-driven finish. The perfect companion for a cheese plate. »
Geneva’s grapevines cover 1,410 hectares that run from the Jura mountains to Lake Geneva and its French border. Satigny, with 469 hectares of vines, is the largest grapegrowing commune in Switzerland. Reds are the majority grapes today, lending themselves well to blends that are praised in competitions, but that are also hugely popular in Geneva. Yes, indeed, Geneva wines are definitely trendy in the city, and wine events, starting with the Geneva Open House Day, are hugely appreciated by the public, year after year.
The emblematic grape varieties are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gamaret, and Gamay. It has to be said that Gamay used to have an image problem… but times have changed.
Explanation with Emilienne Hutin, who heads up the 20-hectare family domaine where 4 hectares are planted to Gamay. “Once we started treating Gamay as a unique grape in its own right, we quickly saw an increase in quality. It’s our main grape variety and we’re planting more, because there’s a demand for it.” Their premium wine – the famous La Briva Vieilles Vignes – is “rich, fruity, spicy, a really lovely wine to enjoy with friends,” and at only fr.14.- per bottle, it’s certainly accessibly priced. “With our Gamay, we’ve discovered how to win people’s hearts. These wines are highly versatile and can be enjoyed on many different occasions.” This variety is also a valuable ally when used in a blend, bringing fruit and suppleness: “our Esprit de Genève has 55% Gamay, 30% Gamaret and 15% Merlot,” says Emilienne.
What could be better than sharing a delicious fondue after a day outdoors?
As a match for this classic Swiss dish, Chasselas is a safe bet. Its subtle aromas, minerality and softness really highlight the rich, salty character of the cheeses, and never over-power them. Or with a traditional half-and-half fondue, try other white wines with subtle notes (think Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois or Humagne Blanche), or red wines that are less tannic, like Pinot Noir, or a fruity Gamay. With a richer, Vacherin-based fondue, choose a more opulent wine – like a Johannisberg, a Chardonnay or a dry Pinot Gris.
1st Chasselas du Grand Prix des Vins Suisses 2017 :
St-Saphorin Bellevue 2016, Les Fils Rogivue, Chexbres VD
« A typically fresh, elegant Chasselas nose of white fruit, lemon and linden. On the palate it has a pleasingly silky texture with a refreshing finish. A delicious wine that is perfect as an aperitif or with a seafood platter ».
Four years ago Sandrine Caloz, her oenologist’s diploma in hand, returned to the family winery.
And for four years she has been working with her parents, Conrad and Anne-Carole, and sometimes with her grandfather Fernand, age 85, who continues to provide “precious good counsel”. Since her return she has taken over vinification. “We taste together, always with Papa, and no decision is made without each first consulting the other.” Her father Conrad carefully tends the vines with an increasing tendancy towards organic viticulture. And thus, sheep graze in the vineyards, effectively cutting the grass. Latest news: the Païen les Bernunes took 3rd place in its category at the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse 2017.
Païen les Bernunes 2016
“A wonderful wine that hints at summer, with its pale gold robe and delicious nose of sun-kissed peach and apricot. On the mouth it is balanced and mouth-filling, with good acidity and a pleasant touch of bitterness on the finish. Enjoy with a blanquette de veau.”
This week, we want to offer you a journey through Ticino with the discovery of Tamborini Carlo’s winery.
Claudio Tamborini has seen the seasons and vintages come and go at the wine business where he grew up and that bears the family’s name. He has been in charge of this family business created in 1944 in Lamone a number of years. He cultivates different grape varieties and makes a collection of top of the line wines that regularly win medals. In 2012, the Tamborini estate won the coveted title of Swiss winery of the year and in 2017, two gold medals at the Mondial du Merlot with their SanZeno Costamagna and the Comano, the latter also taking gold at the Grand Prix du Vin Suisse 2017 as did the Casterotto, coming third in the Best Merlot award.
Now, as he sees the next generation joining him at what is one of canton Ticino’s largest wineries, he looks ahead. “Our most urgent challenge in Switzerland is to make our products known abroad. Will we manage it ? I don’t know. Wine consumption is down everywhere and the competition is stiffer – especially at the price level. We all have to reduce costs, rationalize wherever we can.” And educate consumers: Swiss wineries’ prices are based on cost, on taking care of the countryside, rather than supply and demand, he says. Most importantly: invest in quality. “If you have fine premium wine, you’ll sell it.”
Let yourself be seduced by the Castelrotto 2015 :
« The oak ageing is still very much in evidence on the nose, along with coffee bean, toast, cocoa and a hint of eucalyptus. An attractive wine with tannins that will integrate as it ages. Pair it with fillet steak and a coffee sauce.”
Gérard-Philippe Mabillard, director of the Valais Wines presents his new book, , « AUTOUR D’UN VERRE DE VIN ».
A photographic project that brings together 120 artists from the fields of cinema, photography, gastronomy, sport, dance, wine and music, in support of the Fondation Moi pour Toit.
“The object that appears in all of the photographs in this volume is the finest conduit for emotions that exists in the world of wine: the glass. It is a gateway, a symbol of encounters, of shared moments, of love and friendship. The 120 artists (Gérard Depardieu, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, Marthe Keller, Oliver Stone…) it accompanies here offer us a remarkable perspective of our world. They are men and women whose popularity is expressed on a human scale. Together, they share the same credo: curiosity, passion, and optimism. Today you have the chance to discover previously unpublished images – snapshots from the lives of some unique personalities who light up stages, sets, kitchens, vineyards and stadiums throughout the entire world.
From now on, they will be united by a glass of Valais wine that binds them in their support of an exceptional endeavour: the Foundation Moi pour Toit!“
«Pale gold robe with green hints. Fine, long-lasting bubbles. A complex nose of green apple, fresh butter and dried fruit (hazelnuts, almonds). A lively, refreshing wine: ideal as an aperitif»
The sparkling wine of the year is undoubtedly the “Brut of the Orpailleur 2014″ who won the award of best Swiss sparkling wine at the Grand Prix du VIN Suisse 2017. It offers a new coronation at Frédéric Dumoulin winery in Uvrier (VS).
This title is not simply due to luck. The Orpailleur winery opened in 1999 and its path since then has been paved with repeated successs. Frédéric Dumoulin is happy to share with us one of the secrets to his success. “We cultivate our vines ourselves, with enormous care. Thanks to the size of the vineyard I’ve been able to hire staff who are well trained and to equip the cellar the way we need to , in order to get the best form our primary resource.”
A well rewarded work that we wish to see continue.
Let yourself be seduced.