A Wine of Note: Domaine Wannaz

Merlot, “Chante” 2012, Coteaux de Léman, Domaine Wannaz, VdP Suisse

The poem/tasting note on the front label, roughly translated, reads:

“A flash of sour cherries and the scent of vanilla are the perfumes inhaled from the peace pipe of the all powerful.”

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Goats in the Vineyards

I’d like to say that about sums it up, but I can’t, because there’s more. The poet/winemaker, Gilles Wannaz, is the architect (yet another skill) of this very interesting and eccentric domaine near the Lavaux village of Cully. It is 4.5 hectares of stunning vistas, serious biodynamic viticulture and infectious hospitality. It’s footprint, like many in the Vaud, is far-flung and diverse with holdings in Lutry, Epesses, Saint-Saphorin and Dézaley. Twenty-six different grape varieties are represented which means that vins d’assemblages are a specialty. Pure, honestly flavored wines of real finesse and beauty are its stock in trade.

Wine is the focus here but not the only pursuit.

On Thursday evenings M. Wannaz hosts a wine tasting open house with locally sourced, house-made nibbles and, on demand, he personally caters (yes, he’s a chef) a so-called “buffetcave” inspired by his own caprice and the pickings of the market. His Epicerie de la Vigne available on-site offers a portfolio of house-made biodynamic products that range from facial tonics and oils, to honey, teas and tilleuls. For wine loving weekenders there is a gorgeous apartment available via AirBnb in the middle of the property with catered meals available on request. And did I mention M. Wannaz is an artist? I’m sure there is a gallery somewhere he’d love to show you.

The Wine: But what about the wine? Does it match the poetry? Well, yes, except for the peace pipe thing. His merlot is a gorgeous, transparent color: natural red rose that darkens slightly with air. On the nose it channels the Loire with floral, herbal, earthy and leafy notes. There is sour cherry and milk chocolate as well. The palate is slightly attenuated (just a bit more stuffing, please) but pleasantly tuned-in to its merlot roots; meaning it’s soft, delicate, fragrant and modestly sweet. An herby-cherry, pre-Michel Rolland Pomerol comes to mind. It finishes up slightly acidic but manages to please with its honesty. A real charmer.

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