Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Look at Swiss Wines

I'm no where close to a Swiss wine expert, but I know there are a lot of people out there who don't even know that Swiss wines exist, but while going through some of my old photos, I came across a trip to Lugano, Switzerland.  If anyone has never seen Lugano or Lake Como in Italy, let me sum it up in one picture...

Lake Lugano, Switzerland
(Photo by author)

Lugano, Switzerland... In case the previous picture didn't do it for you...
(Photo from Google Images)

It was here that I actually learned that Switzerland had a wine industry.  If we want to talk wines, this was one of my favorites that I had during my trip to Italy and Switzerland:

2007 Vinattieri White Wine
From the Ticino region of Switzerland
(Photo by author)

Ticino, Switzerland
(Photo by Google Images)

So what is Switzerland all about?  You don't hear a lot about Switzerland among wine experts.  However, there is a definite industry there.

The Swiss, like many European countries, have an official viticultural organization, the OIC.  This organization determines grape growing rules and regulations for the country.  (This is quite similar to the AOC of France.)  Grape production is split about 60:40 with little more emphasis towards red varieties over white varieties.  As most of Switzerland is on the same latitude lines as France's Burgundy region, most of the red production is oriented towards Pinot Noir.  Other red grapes include Gamay, Merlot, and Syrah even though Switzerland is considered a cool-climate region.  The country is probably most popular for its whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillion, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Muller-Thurgau.  However, the most widely planted white variety is Chasselas.  Chasselas is also grown in New Zealand and France, where it is grown primarily in the Loire region and can be blended with Sauvignon Blanc.  The whites that I had while in Lugano where phenomenal.  (I am, of course, a cool-climate lover.)

Wine Regions of Switzerland
(Photo from Wikipedia)

The wine I showed above is from the Ticino region.  Ticino contains mostly limestone soils and has become popular for it's Merlot wines.  However, the wine I had was an exceptional new world style Sauvignon Blanc blended with Chasselas and maybe a few other white varieties... if I remember correctly.

Unfortunately, most of us will never get a chance to try Swiss wines unless we travel to Switzerland (hint, hint to "Johnny Depp!"), as only 2% of the wines are exported.  Unlike Australia and U.S., most wines remain in the country.  In case you aren't completely enticed by this region, let me share a few more viticultural photos of Switzerland that I found on Google:

A bottle of Ticino red behind this beautiful ice cream and liquor dish... yum!
(Photo by author)

Valais, Switzerland
(Photo from Google Images)

Soooo fun...
(Photo from Google Images)

A restaurant overlooking Lake Lugano
(Photo by author)

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