Pinot Noir from the Bielersee–It Runs In the Family

Standing in the vineyards between Ligerz and Twaan I often feel a little dreamy as I stare at the Bierlersee below and its signature landmark, St. Peter’s Island. From this vantage point I can only begin to imagine the serene isolation of someone living there alone, as the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau did for a short […]

Valais Mundi–Ready for the World?

When controversy surrounds a subject it’s sometimes best to let the dust settle before crawling back into the fray. A case in point is the dust-up surrounding the Swiss brand Valais Mundi and its flagship red wine, Electus. From its introduction in 2013, to a recent series of press tastings, consensus has been hard to […]

Mondeuse: The Ghost of Grapes Past

The landscape of Swiss vineyards offered a more complicated puzzle in 1880 than it does today. Not only did viticulture suffer a massive decline during the decades of phylloxera infestation, it endured a mass migration from north to south and an alarming loss of diversity. First, some statistics. Zürich’s area under vine fell from 5,279 […]

Plantscher, Blanchier, Bordeaux Blanc, Gros Bourgogne: Who’s Your Daddy?

The ancient Swiss variety, Plantscher (aka Blanchier, Gros Bourgogne or Bordeaux Blanc), is perhaps best known for having nothing to do with Burgundy or Bordeaux. In fact, it’s an off-spring of the Hungarian grape Furmint and its likely place of origin is Central Europe. What makes the Plantscher story particularly vexing (and ironic) is that […]

Domaine La Colombe “Curzilles” Vertical — 2016-2010

Silvio Jermann’s iconic Vintage Tunina may not have been the first field blend I ever tasted, but it was the first that made me aware of the term. I remember ordering a bottle in 1977 at the high-concept, Milan-inspired trattoria, Ciao, on Union Street in San Francisco. I think it was the first vintage—1975—but it […]

Neuchâtel Non Filtré: Let Yourself Be Disturbed

Every year on the third Wednesday in January, at five-o’clock sharp, there’s a party in the charming Swiss city of Neuchâtel. It’s not a raucous affair with loud music or wild dancing; instead, it’s a dignified civic event with some costume-clad celebrants and some excellent young wine to drink. Good wine, however, is in the […]

A Wine of Note: Domaine Mermetus

2017 Altesse, Une Touche de Fantaisie, Domaine Mermetus (Lavaux, Vaud) Like a lot of orphan grapes, Altesse suffers from some persistent, seemingly unshakeable origin stories. But thanks to modern genetic sleuthing, we can say for sure it’s not from Cyprus—which means it never hitchhiked with Count Amadeus VI on his way home from a 14th-century […]