Wine connoisseurs, put 12-13 September in your diaries for a trip to taste Swiss wines
Swiss wine isn’t big in England, mainly because the Swiss don’t make much and what they do make they keep to themselves. Figures that I have just googled and may be entirely inaccurate at least give a sense of the scale between Swiss output and other nations. Italian and French annual outputs are over four and five million tonnes. That of Switzerland is only 100,000.
Vineyards in Lavaux
Nevertheless Switzerland contains some ancient wine regions that have been producing wines since the winemakers were wearing togas and had to head to Avenches to cheer for their local gladiator. This year is the second Lavaux Passion, celebrating the local wines and the UNESCO world heritage site that Lavaux has been since 2007. WIth cruises, tastings, workshops and the chance to meet the wine makers it is an event that wine connoisseurs should put in their diaries. Foodies as well – for two weeks over the festival local restaurants will offer special menus of food paired with local wines.
Winemaker Blaise Duboux hands out the glasses for a tasting
As a taster of what’s to come in September I visited Blaise Duboux, president of the Lavaux Passion in Epesses en Lavaux. His 5 hectare vineyard that has been in the same family for over 500 years is high above the northern coast of Lake Geneva. In the shady garden of this top estate in Vaud we tasted several of the wines he has created.
Duboux is a practitioner of biodynamic agriculture and organic cultivation, treating the ancient vineyard with respect. He even takes into the account the lunar calendar in his winemaking calculations – as this affects the atmospheric pressure and can have an effect on various parts of the process.
The grape we tasted was the local Chasselas, which is grown in different parts of the steep vineyard to produce three different wines; Calamin, Dezaley – Haut de Pierre and Corniche. All are 100% Chasselas, yet each tastes slightly different, embodying Duboux’s belief that the wines are a soil revealer. Haut de Pierre is made with vieilles vignes of at least 25 years old in a part of the vineyard where there are ‘more walls than land’. It has the fullest flavour. The Calamin is minerally with a slight lemon highlight whilst the Corniche tasted more complex. Together they are a unique taste of a terroir that is little known to UK palates.
Lavaux Passion is a wine event worth seeking out. I should start scoping out the London to Geneva flights…