Mémoire & Friends: Zürich 2016

Old Kongresshaus

This year marks an end to the collaboration between Zürich’s Kongresshaus and the Mémoire & Friends annual gathering. One of the city’s most iconic facilities is headed for a retrofit and remodel while event organizers scramble for a new home. As of this writing there is still no secured venue which, sadly, places next year’s event in jeopardy. This would be an incredible loss for the Swiss wine scene because Mémoire & Friends has become the absolute gold standard for quality, focused tastings. Unlike trade events, quasi-government sponsored competitions and other private events the Mémoire & Friends tasting attracts the very best in Switzerland. It is a highly curated event that includes a diverse group of wines from all over the country chosen by impassioned amateurs and savvy professionals. It is considered an honor to be among the Mémoire des Vins Suisses family.

When I asked Martin Donatsch why he bothers appearing here, he said: “Even though I don’t have any wine to sell it gives me the opportunity to see many of our friends, clients and sommeliers who I otherwise might not see. It keeps everyone posted on what we are doing.”

Needless to say this event has kept me up to date with what’s new on the scene and what’s coming down the road. It’s a great place to network and make contacts. I for one will miss it greatly if there is no resolution.

In the meantime, I have attempted to include in this post the best of what I found at this year’s event. Please keep in mind I did not try everything, not by a long shot, instead I attempted to focus on new names (at least to me) and a few old friends. Please have a look and maybe compare your notes to mine.


Weinbau von Tscharner, Reichenau, Graubünden—

Pinot Blanc/Chardonnay, Maienfelder 2015, Weinbau von Tscharner, Reichenau, Graubünden: (30% malolactic) Pale straw in color. Lively nose of grapefruit and cream. Very juicy, fresh palate of citrus with a creamy texture and bright acids. Slight prickle of CO2 keeps things fresh. Very nice.

Pinot Gris, Jeninser 2015, Weinbau von Tscharner, Reichenau, Graubünden: (50% malolactic) Slight copper sheen. Very fresh leafy, herbal aroma. Palate is spicy with grapefruit, cream and a vein of minerality. Nice rich style. Very good.


Weingut Georg Fromm, Malans, Graubünden—

Chardonnay, Malanser 2015, Weingut Georg Fromm, Malans, Graubünden: Straw colored. Sweet cream and subtle oak. Very fat, ripe palate of tropical fruit—mostly mango and pineapple—and a richly textured, creamy palate. Oak is prominent but well integrated even at this early stage. Very good.

Pinot Noir, Malanser 2015, Weingut Georg Fromm, Malans, Graubünden: Pretty ruby color. Floral and herbal aromatics. Very fresh flavors of violets and cherry fruit. Brown sugar on the back palate. Nicely structured with a crunchy texture and grippy tannins. Delicious and built for medium term aging.

img_2156Pinot Noir, Fidler 2014, Weingut Georg Fromm, Malans, Graubünden: Slightly deeper ruby color. Very aromatic nose of sweet spices, balsam and a green freshness. Palate is medium-weight but firm and fresh with cherry and spice. Very juicy and mouthwatering. A step up in quality.

Pinot Noir, Spellman 2014, Weingut Georg Fromm, Malans, Graubünden: Solid ruby color. Nose is slightly pinched in due to reduction but some cherry shows through. Palate is sweeter and deeper than above with concentrated cherry flavor and stone fruit intensity. Very nicely textured. This is awkward now but will be lovely when resolved.


Weingut Obrecht, Jenins, Graubünden—

Riesling x Sylvaner 2015, Weingut Obrecht, Jenins, Graubünden (muller-thurgau): Pale straw in color. Very shy nose with some grapefruit and rose petal. Palate is all lemon, grapefruit and lingering rose petal. Really fresh and vivacious with tingling but ripe acidity. Good.

Chardonnay 2014, Weingut Obrecht, Jenins, Graubünden: Straw/gold in color. Herbal/minty core with butterscotch lurking at the edges. Some vanilla too. Medium-bodied with slightly green acids. A bit too much oak and its sidekick vanilla. A bit too compartmentalized for me but others may find it just right. Perhaps time will help even things out.


Annatina Pelizzatti, Jenins, Graubünden—

Pinot Blanc 2015, Annatina Pelizzatti, Jenins, Graubünden: Straw colored. Lovely, fresh nose of pineapple, cream and sweet spices. Palate is richly textured with cream, lemon and beautifully integrated oak. Bright fresh acids to conclude. Excellent.


Schlossgut Bachtobel, Weinfelden, Thurgau—

Pinot Noir, No. 1 2015, Schlossgut Bachtobel, Thurgau: Pale ruby in color. Slightly reduced nose of savory, herbal, cherry-tinged fruit. Palate is light-weight with delicious cherry fruit. Simple but very nice.

Pinot Noir, No. 2 2014, Schlossgut Bachtobel, Thurgau: Pale ruby in color. Very shy, uncertain nose with some reduction. Leaner textured than above with some cherry cola fruit. I’m still trying to get on a rhythm with this winery. I continue to be underwhelmed for the most part with the lack of real definition to the wines.

Pinot Noir, No. 3 2014, Schlossgut Bachtobel, Thurgau: Ruby colored. More of the same but with cleaner notes. There’s nothing to grab onto here. Not bad just a bit shallow.


Nadine Saxer, Neftenbach, Zürich—

“Nobler Weisser” 2015, Nadine Saxer, VdP Suisse, (muller-thurgau): Pale straw in color. Very assertive fresh herbal nose with notes of tarragon, fennel and lemon basil. Slightly sweet entry before herbs and citrus spread out. Fresh acids before a not too sweet finish. A nice example of MT.

saxerSauvignon Blanc 2015, Nadine Saxer, VdP Suisse: Pale straw in color. Typical but restrained green grass, herbs and lemon nose. Sexy palate of fresh grass, lemon rind and grapefruit. Crisp and well defined. Very good.

Chardonnay 2015, Nadine Saxer, VdP Suisse: Pale straw in color. Lively aromas of green apple, pineapple, toast and discreet oak. Pronounced flavors of above with a very fresh acid backbone. This is a great example of a sophisticated use of oak on what is basically a lighter, fruit-forward wine. Very discreet and delicious. Bravo!


Weingut Pircher, Eglisau, Zürich—

Räuschling 2015, Weingut Pircher, Zürich: Pale straw/green in color. Very simple, green apple nose. Bright and clean to boot. Surprisingly soft palate with a bit of cream and crisp apple fruit. I was told there was no malolactic fermentation here which belies the softness of the palate. I liked this quite a bit and thought it to be one of the best young räuschlings I’ve tasted.

Pinot Gris 2015, Weingut Pircher, Zürich: Straw/copper in color. Rich, slightly roasted notes, sweet spices and cream on the nose. Very rich, creamy palate with a sublime texture of pear and deep, spicy flavors. Absolutely delicious. This wine was fermented in barrel and received a regular battonage. Serious pinot gris and one of the best I’ve tasted from Switzerland.

Blauburgunder 2015, Weingut Pircher, Zürich: Ruby/garnet in color. Pretty and aromatically balanced nose of red berry, cream and toasted spice. Delicious raspberry fruit cream flavors with marshmallow and some fresh green flavors. Some grippy tannins add definition. Really very good and a good showing overall for this iconic producer.


Suisse Romande

Cru de l’Hôpital, Haut-Vully, Fribourg—

Chasselas, Fichillien 2015, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully: Pale straw in color. Very appealing, even haunting, crushed apricot nose. Very pure and delicate. Finesse! Very sexy palate of perfumey peach and apricot skin. Pin-point balance and again that word: finesse. So delicate, so refined.

Pinot Gris 2015, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully: Straw colored. Distinct peach jam notes. Again very delicate and refined. Palate has some lovely candied fruit—lemon and lime—with stone-fruit concentration. Finishes a touch hot. These wines are so pure in flavor and so beautifully textured I would have guessed they were amphorae wines. I forgot to ask.

Chardonnay, Champerbou 2015, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully: Pale straw in color. Back to earth here. Cream, butter and oak on the nose. Very shy fruit. Palate is delicate with lemon fruit, vanilla and cream. A bit tight and wound up. I wonder about the fruit going forward.

Traminer 2015, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully: Straw colored. Lovely, again haunting, rose petal nose. So pure. Delicate floral flavors literally perfume the mouth. Kiss me, I will never taste better. Persistent flavor and length. Lovely. Traminer is a house specialty here and to my mind they have a big lead.

Pinot Noir, Mur 2014, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully: Very healthy, dense ruby/garnet color. Interesting nose of gingerbread, cola and ripe black berries. Perhaps a touch over ripe? Not very pinot. Again dark berries, cola and an American oak-like overlay. (I forgot to ask). Again not very pinot. Interesting but a touch overdone for me.

Elévation de Fichillien 2013, Cru de l’Hôpital, Vully (gamaret/malbec): Sturdy garnet color. Very pretty red fruit and candied violet nose. Weird waxy texture but very interesting berry fruit cream flavors. More gamaret than malbec I think because tannins are soft to non-existent. And that texture? I have to try this again sometime.


Domaine Grand’Cour, Satigny, Geneva—

Sauvignon Blanc, Pellegrin 2014, Domaine Grand’Cour, Satigny, Geneva: Pale straw in color. Lovely scent of grapefruit oil and fresh pineapple. Palate is fresh with bright, mouthwatering, lemony acids. This is one of the best sauvignon blancs I have had from Switzerland. Superbly balanced, focused, flavorful and promising positive future development.

Merlot, Pellegrin 2014, Domaine Grand’Cour, Satigny, Geneva: Vibrant ruby/garnet color. Lovely aroma of dark cherries and herbs. Spot-on flavors of milk chocolate-covered cherries. Bright and clean with mouthwatering acids. Lovely, silky texture. Lots of length. Delicious.

“M 2011” 2011, Domaine Grand’Cour, Satigny, Geneva (merlot): Garnet colored. Fabulous roasted mulberry nose (a hallmark of this winery). Very succulent, luxurious palate of fresh berry cream and expertly integrated oak. Only now beginning to show its class. Will continue to develop. Delicious.


J. & P. Testuz, Cully, Lavaux, Vaud—

Chasselas, “Coup de l’Etrier” 2015, J. & P. Testuz, Lavaux, Vaud: Pale gold color. Fresh herb nose, some lemon and white flowers. Palate is a touch sweet on entry with rounded white fruit. Slightly bitter finish. Overall rather simple, a touch too sweet and lacks definition.

Chasselas, “Roche Ronde”—St.-Saphorin 2015, J. & P. Testuz, Lavaux, Vaud: Pale gold color. Lovely apricot nose with a bit of pleasant mineral reduction. Much firmer and juicier than above with a savory flavor, verging on umami. Good.

Chasselas, “La Borne”—Dézaley Grand Cru 2015, J. & P. Testuz, Lavaux, Vaud: (Tiny img_2157production of 800 liters.) Pale gold color. Green herb fruit with linden blossom and mint. Palate is nicely dry with fine extract. Herbal flavors with lemon and some minerals. Crisp finish with lingering perfume. Very good.

Chasselas, “L’Arbalète”—Dézaley Grand Cru 2015, J. & P. Testuz, Lavaux, Vaud: Pale gold color. Lovely, ripe nose of apple, herbs and minerals. Very nice tension. Medium-bodied palate that is dry and redolent of herbs, citrus and mineral extract. Excellent.


Domaine Blaise Duboux, Epesses, Lavaux, Vaud—

Chasselas, “Les Murets”—Villette 2015, Domaine Blaise Duboux, Lavaux, Vaud: Pale straw in color. Super fresh nose of apricot, peach and minerals. Light on its feet. Palate is fresh with bright acidity. Perfect harmony of fruit and mineral. Delicious. This is from very light soils (60% sand) which gives a forward, early drinking wine.

Chasselas, “Haut de Pierre”—Dézaley Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Blaise Duboux, Lavaux, Vaud: Always a Dézaley benchmark and one of the most mineral of the Blaise Duboux stable. Pale gold color. Offers a creamy, stone fruit and salty, herb nose. Pronounced pierre à fusil scent. Palate is a bit closed up but showing umami flavors, mineral salt and savory herbs. A sleeping giant. This will reward patience.

Chasselas, “Cuvée Vincent”—Calamin Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Blaise Duboux, Lavaux, Vaud: Straw/gold in color. Very ripe peach skin nose with a touch of pierre à fusil minerality. Big, fleshy palate with no residual sweetness. Lots of texture and extract with lovely peachy and herbal flavors. Very impressive Calamin with discreet power. Delicious.


Domaine Louis Bovard, Cully, Lavaux, Vaud—

Chasselas, “Terre-à-Boire”—Epesses 2015, Domaine Louis Bovard, Lavaux, Vaud: Pale straw in color. Starts with a restrained tropical fruit nose, both banana and pineapple. On the palate green herbs and lemon with a subtle mineral streak. Fresh and vivacious if not especially compelling. Good.

Chasselas, “Le Méridien”—St.-Saphorin 2015, Domaine Louis Bovard, Lavaux, Vaud: Straw colored. Forward nose of smoke and green herbs. Slightly musky. Palate opens slightly sweet with pronounced grapefruit flavors. Expected more umami and savory flavors. A bit simple. OK.

Chasselas, “Fumé”—St.-Saphorin 2015, Domaine Louis Bovard, Lavaux, Vaud: (Oak aged with a malolactic fermentation.) Soft milky, yogurt nose with a bit of mineral. Fruit is buried. Palate also soft and diffuse with a slimy (melted butter?) texture. Flavors more savory than fruity. Clearly needs some time to bring itself together. Judgment reserved

Chasselas, “Medinette”—Dézaley Grand Cru 2015, Domaine Louis Bovard, Lavaux, Vaud: Straw colored. Slightly more restraint in the nose than the Calamin. Tangy, fresh pineapple nose with a thin overlay of green fruit. Palate is sweet and pleasantly bitter with citrus oil, grapefruit pith and a strong mineral core. Very youthful and a bit clumsy as are many of the 2015s with slightly elevated alcohol and lavish textures. Needs time but “Medinette” is known for aging well.


Didier Joris, Chamoson, Valais—

Cabernet Franc, “Barrique” 2015, Didier Joris, Chamoson, Valais: (Both of these wines had barrel sample written all over them: very primary and a bit monolithic. They are, however, impressive.) This one sports a dense, dark, almost purple color that is solid to the rim. It oozes aromas of crushed blackberry, violets, prunes and dried stems. The palate is almost unapproachable with chewy, chalky fruit that is at once the essence of dark berry and roasted meat. Finishes with building heat. This will be a fun one to watch.

“Graves Rouge” 2015, Didier Joris, Chamoson, Valais (merlot): This one is equally dense with a slightly more garnet color. Mild aromas of black fruit and earth (Graves?). Much more prune and dried fruit on the palate with a roasted meat component. Very hot. Maybe a bit out of balance but clearly too early to show and judge. I prefer the cabernet franc.

Bee hives at Didier Joris


Histoire d’Enfer, Corin, Valais—

Humagne Blanche, “Réserve” 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Pale straw color. Toasty, lemony nose is fairly one dimesional. Palate is searingly acidic that takes some chewing to get to the lemony extract at its core. There seems to be something lurking beneath it all but I think time is needed to let it out. 20% aged in oak. Judgment reserved.

Petite Arvine, “Réserve” 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Straw/gold in color. Serious roasted, Lemon Drop cocktail nose. Hints of popped corn. Palate is rich and lemony with pronounced oak flavors. Juicy acids are mouthwatering. This is another successful petite arvine from this most promising producer.

Païen, “Réserve” 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Pale straw in color. Very light, white flower nose with a bit of cream. Very focused and linear palate but not enough showing right now. Some malolactic character but fruit is buried. Judgment reserved.

Pinot Noir, “Enfer du Calcaire” 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Garnet colored with some browning at the rim. Sweet fruit and forest floor aromatics. Palate is layered with sweet fruit, sweet spices and a fresh, green leafiness. Developed and not particularly grippy. Very Burgundian. Quite delicious and successful.

Syrah 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Deep garnet in color. Savory and herbal nose. Tightest of the reds. Very compact with loads of tannin. Dark berries, earth and green stems. Clearly needs time. Will develop slowly but into what? Judgment reserved.

Cornalin 2014, Histoire d’Enfer, Valais: Dark garnet with a bit of brown. Lovely roasted mulberry, blackberry and cream nose. Sweet, cream liqueur-like palate. Roasted berries and baked custard with vanilla and sweet spices. A very delicious wine with years ahead of it. Cornalin (rouge du pays) is such an intriguing variety I wish there was more of it for the world to see.


Domaine Cornulus, Savièse, Valais—

Chasselas, “Vieilles Vignes—Clos des Corbassières” 2015, Domaine Cornulus, Valais: clos-de-mangold-vieilles-vignes(Raised in amphorae) Pale straw in color. Very precise and focused nose of white flowers and mandarin. Impeccably balanced palate of acidity, lemon and grapefruit flavors, alcohol and minerally definition. Cornulus continues to produce some of Switzerland’s best wine, year in and year out, and seem to go from strength to strength. This is excellent.

Hermitage, “Clos des Corbassières” 2014, Domaine Cornulus, Valais (marsanne): Gold in color. Serious, honeyed-fruit nose with a late-harvest edge. Ample acidity on entry keeps things fresh and bright. A luxurious palate of rippling silk with flavors of tropical fruit, honey and a suggestion of cream. Sensual and delicious.

“Empreinte Calcaire”, “Clos des Monzuettes” 2014, Domaine Cornulus, Valais (Humagne Blanche/Petite Arvine): Pale straw in color. Fresh, delicate herb and lime leaf nose. Somewhat neutral palate but full of extract, weight and creaminess. Vaguely spicy. Humagne blanche reminds me a bit of the Graubünden’s completer which never seems to show much early but then blossoms in unexpected ways with age. There is a lot here but it’s very unexpressed at the moment.

Humagne Rouge, “Antica” 2009, Domaine Cornulus, Valais: Ruby colored. Serious, mature aromas of lead pencil, cedar and roasted fruit. A conundrum: pinot frame with claret personality. Mouthfilling, tangy fruit ranging from sour cherries and plums to disparate savory elements, nut skin and umami. A potent mouthful in the guise of a middle-weight. Lingering flavors. Excellent.

Pinot Noir, “Vieilles Vignes—Coeur du Clos” 2014, Domaine Cornulus, Valais: Ruby colored. Stewed weed and slightly feral on the nose. Not especially attractive. The flavors mirror the nose with a smokey element and an odd mustard note. One of the few misses from this property.

Cornalin, “Antica” 2015, Domaine Cornulus, Valais: Garnet in color. Very primary nose of herbs and raspberry. Dense and unyielding otherwise. More raspberry on the palate with grippy tannins. This clearly needs some time but it appears to have everything it needs to develop positively.


Anne-Catherine & Denis Mercier, Sierre, Valais—

Pinot Blanc 2015, Anne-Catherine & Denis Mercier, Valais: Pale straw color. Fresh pineapple nose, very bright and very clean. Vibrant acidity greets the tongue along with some creamy flavors of pineapple and talc. Just a bit of fresh sawdust as well. Very good pinot blanc from this excellent cellar.

Petite Arvine 2015, Anne-Catherine & Denis Mercier, Valais: Pale straw/gold in color. Perfectly balanced Lemon Drop cocktail nose with a dash of grapefruit syrup. Amazingly harmonious palate of grapefruit pith (pleasantly bitter), lemon and crushed stone. I love this now but I think its overall balance will take it for a few years although Madeleine Mercier does not advise keeping it for long.



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