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 only takes 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 […]

Swiss Grapes — An Homage to Chasselas (and Indirectly to Roast Chicken)

Hang around Switzerland long enough and you’ll eventually grapple with the chasselas riddle: Why is this famously ordinary table grape — and the famously neutral wine that comes from it — given star billing in Swiss vineyards and held in such high regard by its proponents? After living with chasselas for a while, I can offer […]

Opinion: What’s Happening at the Wine Advocate?

After years as a lapsed Wine Advocate junkie (Parker free since 1992) I recently re-upped when it became apparent that the online newsletter is committed to covering Swiss wine in a meaningful way. I’m encouraged that Stephen Reinhardt, their Swiss commentator, appears to be passionate about the subject and has a pretty good grasp of […]

Opinion: The True Cost of Cheap Wine — An Update

Back in April I wrote a piece titled The True Cost of Cheap Wine in which I set out to advance the narrative that cheap, industrially made wine has cost consequences beyond the obvious. It was easily the most read piece in these humble pages, inspiring both praise and criticism alike. While it is the avowed purpose […]