Alpine horns, Ferrero Rocher and other assorted Helvetic cliches at the ready for the Circle of Wine Writers' Christmas tasting of Swiss Wines at the Ambassador's residence
Over-rated and over-priced but not available over here was, for many years, my general impression of Swiss wines.
And whilst cliches are often grounded in some basic truth, there are also subtleties and complexities that elude sweeping generalisation.
The wines at this Swiss tasting were as elegantly unruffled, discreetly unassuming and expensively self-assured as a Zurich bank manager; and yet, despite a distinct family resemblance - an alpine freshness and purity - there was a sweeping variety of styles, grapes, ages and production methods.
With six wine regions, four languages and a mix of native and international grape varieties, Switzerland's oenological history dates back to pre-Roman times.
Many wineries are family-run independents, reflecting the terroir and cultural traditions of landscapes that vary from alpine to Mediterranean.
Swiss wine writer Chandra Kurt says of her country's wines that they are of high quality, unique, pure and sometimes so silent that it takes time to hear them.
I was ready to listen.
Domaine Blaise Duboux Plant Robaz 2011 blackberries, black cherries, complex fruit with some pepper and liquorice. Very Good.
Pierre-Luc Leyvraz Saint-Saphorin Grand Cru Brumaire 2012 black fruits, spices and well-balanced. Very Good
Cave Cidis Chardonnay B. Ravet "Le Vin Vivant" 2012 citrus, white flowers, sweet spice, fresh and delicate. Good.
Provins Valais Petite Arvine de Fully - Maitre de Chais Reserve Speciale 2012 floral, pink grapefruit, citrus; elegant and fresh with a deft touch of ripe fruit sweetness behind. Good.
Jean-Rene Germanier Mitis-Amigne de Vetroz (Reserve) 2009 amazing sticky, quince, honey and orange marmalade; deliciously sweet and rich, but elegant and fleet-footed with a lively acidity. Very Good.
Domaine des Muses Fendant "Tradition" 2012 fresh fruit and white flowers, fresh acidity, minerality and elegance. Good.
Domaine Grand'Cour Pinot Noir "P" 2010 raspberry, morello cherry, mocha; intense, harmonious and superbly balanced. Very Good.
Domaine Chambleau Oeil-de-Perdrix 2012 PN rose; ripe mandarin peel, strawberries and citrus - soft, plump and ripe.
Swiss German Region
Ganterbein Wine Chardonnay 2011 citrus, grapefruit and mineral with toasted hazelnuts and sweet spice. Fresh, balanced, poised and deft. Very Good.
Cantina Kopp Von Der Crone Visini Scala 2011 expressive red plums, coffee, bramble fruit and some sweet spice; elegant and velvety Bordeaux-style Merlot.
Brivio Vini Platinum 2005 black cherry and sour cherries, roasted notes, liquorice, dark chocolate and coffee. Fresh, balanced, complex and assured - and only just ready for drinking. Very Good.
The overall standard here was very high - well-judged, technically well-made wines with a purity and easy-drinking freshness.
With the wines from an entire and very diverse nation to discover, it is not easy to single out favourites, but a few wines stood out as particularly impressive:
Best white Gantenbein Chardonnay 2011
Best red Brivio Vini Platinum 2005
Best producer Jean-Rene Germanier
Gauntleys of Nottingham
Nick Dobson Wines
Restaurant St Moritz
Other related articles
LinksSwiss Wine Promotion - facebook, twitter
Circle of Wine Writers - website, twitter
Image credits: the pictures in this piece were taken by CWW member Stephen Morris.