Müller-Thurgau: Then and Now

I would argue that the much-maligned cross of Riesling x Silvaner, better known as Müller-Thurgau, is a dual national. There’s no doubt the variety was born in Germany, but what’s not so well known is that it came of age in Switzerland. It was created by a Swiss scientist, Hermann Müller, at Geisenheim in the […]

The Wine Rivers of Switzerland: The Rhine

If the Alps are “The Water Tower of Europe”, as they’re sometimes known, then the Witenwasserenstock, a mountain peak in central Switzerland, is the spigot. Its pointy summit (header photo) is one of the few triple watersheds in Europe and a feeder for the alpine catchments of the Rhine, Rhône and Po basins. There’s more. […]

The Dry Stone Walls of Valais

I want to talk about walls. Not the politically-charged border walls that divide nations but the visionary walls that make possible seemingly impossible human tasks. The kinds of walls that allow a vigneron to repurpose a steep granite mountainside into a world-class vineyard. I can think of several excellent examples all over Switzerland — some of them […]

Provins Valais: A Cooperative No More

Provins Valais, the largest winery in Switzerland and producer of nearly ten percent of all Swiss wine, is a cooperative no more. After years of financial turmoil — culminating in a messy crop payment fiasco — the ninety-year-old enterprise was recast as a société anonyme (“S.A.”) by an overwhelming vote of its members. The suitor, Fenaco, a highly […]

Swiss Wine: The Grand Cru Confusion Explained

One of the most frustrating (and intriguing) things about researching Swiss wine is the diligence required to gather information across three languages and twenty-six, more-or-less autonomous cantons. The bottom-up system of Swiss government means that each canton retains broad powers to regulate its own affairs. From there, it takes only a little digging to discover […]

Water Into Wine: A Case Study

Water into wine — Jesus got it right, from one comes the other. But the real miracle at that wine-deficient wedding in Galilee was his judicious use of a scarce natural resource: one measure of water for one measure of wine. An enviable ratio in anyone’s book and one that today’s water-conscious winemakers would do well to […]

Bâtonnage: Some Thoughts On a New Wine Podcast

Earlier this month marked the debut of a new wine podcast (brave souls) hosted by food and wine maven, Fiona Beckett, and the seemingly tireless Master of Wine, Liam Steevenson. It’s called Bâtonnage—a play on the French term which in English means “to stir the lees”—and if the first episode is any indication the series […]

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Call Wine What It Is (or What We Want It to Be)

The excellent timatkin.com website recently featured an article by fellow Master of Wine, Christy Canterbury. In it she asks a very important question: Is an imitation wine better than a fake? It’s not a trick question. Wine forgeries, and the fraudsters who create them, are very much in the news lately as many of us […]

Book Review: Cépages Suisses: Histoires et Origines–José Vouillamoz (2017)

Cépages Suisses—Histoires et Origines  by José Vouillamoz, Éditions Favre (2017) When you think about Switzerland and its wine you probably don’t think of the incredible diversity of its vineyards (252 cultivars) or the tiny area that contains them (just under 15,000 hectares—the same as in Alsace). It’s safe to say the sheer volume of diverse genetic […]