Book Review: 111 Vins Suisses à ne pas manquer by Pierre Thomas (2022)

111 Vins Suisses à ne pas manquer by Pierre Thomas, Emons Verlag (2022)

The “111” series of books by German publisher Emons Verlag is a staple in European bookstores. Like the “Books for Dummies” franchise in the U.S., their titles are everywhere. The brand’s most successful niche, by far, is the off beat guidebook written by locals, with broad coverage of world cities, both large and small. Occasionally, they cover specialized products like Scotch, German sekt, Bavarian beer, or, in this case, Swiss wine.

For this title — translated as 111 Swiss Wines Not to Be Missed — the publishers snagged one of Switzerland’s most accomplished wine journalists and esteemed critics, Pierre Thomas. His sidekick for the project is the talented German photographer, Tobias Fassbinder.

Thomas writes for numerous publications in the francophone world, including his own site He is a judge at several international competitions, including the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, and he is a juror-member of the Mémoire des Vins Suisses. I know him because I see him at almost every wine tasting I attend.

In this book, Thomas takes the reader on a journey through all the major wine regions of Switzerland and into the cellars of its most respected vignerons. What makes the book unique is his unmatched access and easy familiarity with the people and places he covers.

Thomas operates with an insider’s confidence. He’s not afraid to explore and recommend varieties and styles not normally associated with a given producer. For instance, Ticino-based Enrico Trapletti, famed for his Merlot and Nebbiolo, is celebrated in the book for his esoteric spumante rosato, Godié. Similarly, a rare Savagnin from Denis Perrochet of Maison Carrée is the author’s choice to represent this great producer of Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Chardonnay.

These are the wines curious readers should know about, as they are made in small quantities, for personal satisfaction, rather than commercial appeal. I can personally vouch for many them, but, as a testament to the range of choices in this book, there are many that are new to me.

Of course, the collection is also full of well-known favorites and established classics, but even those are rendered more colorful by Thomas’s commentary. I might never have known, for instance, that the genetic confusion surrounding the Swiss varieties Lafnetscha, Humagne Blanche, and Completer originated in the vineyards of Chanton Weine in Visp. Or that the limestone sub-soil in canton Lucerne (similar to St. Emilion’s) inspired Toni Ottiger to plant Merlot in this out of the way wine region.

There is a lot of detail to be gleaned from this compact volume and all of it is current and relevant. Details about winemaking, methods of farming, family histories, and local customs are included for many of the entries, as are brief overviews of each of the growing areas covered.

More practically, Thomas’s guide will be of great help to the wine-interested tourist. With this book in one hand and a restaurant’s wine list in the other, the diner is certain to find something perfect for the occasion. Perhaps, a lovely Petite Arvine with a fondue moitié-moitié, or an aged Dézaley with filets de perche à la meunière.

Thomas’s writing is enhanced by color photographs for each of the featured wines. As a lover of wine label art, I would buy the book just for the pictures. Indeed, images are always useful for connecting a name with a place. Locating each wine in this book on a map will guide the reader through this wine-loving nation, the incredible diversity of which is on full display here.

The book is available in either French or German editions direct from the publisher or from Librarie Payot in Switzerland. Unfortunately, it is not available in English.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s