Nature is clockwork. Just as the grape harvest wraps up in Switzerland the temperatures drop. Fall is here and it is in the air. By all accounts 2016 looks to be another excellent harvest with fine, dry weather until the tail end of the season when there was quite a bit of rain. By that time most fruit was safely off the vine and in the cuveries. Look for better balance all around than in 2015 especially with the alcohol and acidity levels in chasselas. Both vintages are terrific but I may yet give the nod to 2016 because of its potential for balance and harmony. Those who love ripeness and power may prefer 2015.
As the leaves on the vines change color, I leave you with a few pictures of the season and some notes on a few of the wines I tasted last month.
Chassalas 2015, Vignerons Mermoud, Lully, Geneva: Very pale, almost watery. Nose of ripe pear, white flowers and melon. Light-weight palate of fresh fruit and stony, minerally acidity. Nice restraint here even in this hot vintage.
Chasselas 2015, Grillette Domaine de Cressier (Mathias Tobler), Neuchâtel: Pale gold in color. Candied citrus peel and musky fruit on the nose. Palate enters slightly flat and low acid with a salty flavor, like olive juice. Lemony palate is a bit disappointing. Very savory and lacking any sweetness from fruit. No follow through either. Kind of high pH soapiness.
Fendant, Dame de Sion 2015, Les Fils de Charles Favre, Sion, Valais (chasselas): Pale straw in color. Very savory nose of fresh herbs, lemon and a speck of mercaptans (garlic). Interesting and very understated belying the vintage. Palate is also savory with some fennel, tarragon and lemon. Light-weight. OK.
Fendant, Les Murettes 2015, Maison Gilliard, Sion, Valais (chasselas): Pale gold in color. Very ripe aromas of musky fruit, white flowers and honey. This warm vintage can be slightly sweet or hot from elevated alcohol. This one tends toward sweetness. Very rich with a slight mushroom component, candied citrus, honey and aromatic fruit. Would be better with more acidity and definition. Good overall.
La Colombe Noire, Réserve 2013, Domaine La Colombe (Raymond Paccot), La Côte, Vaud (pinot noir): Lightish, garnet colored with a trace of onionskin rim. Very pretty peach skin nose with red berry fruit, roses and earth. Medium-weight palate that is nicely textured, round and sweet. Red berry, earth and peppery spice flavors with just a bit of grippy tannin. Very good. From an excellent and very consistent biodynamic producer.
Cornalin 2015, Philippe Darioli, Valais: Opaque, almost purple in color. Fat, slightly roasted nose of violets, dark berries and a meaty, umami suggestion. Like a theoretical zinfandel-syrah blend. Almost Californian in its generosity with none of the pruney, over-ripe fruit. Creamy dark berries with a salty, meaty savoriness. Very good.
Apologia 2015, Provins, Valais: Dark, opaque garnet, tending to black, like lagrein. Rich, roasted berry/plum fruit nose with earth (concrete) and rubber tire. A little reduction. Low-tannin with out-sized saturation. Herby nose of carraway, roasted fruit and fresh tobacco. A little amorphous for my liking as well as a little muddy.