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 […]

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 […]

Domaine La Colombe: Pinot Gris “La Colombe Grise” Retrospective — 2015-2006

Back in the formative years of my professional career Pinot Gris was a life-jacketed castaway clinging to a barrel stave in the vast sea of wine. Its most significant presence was in Alsace, but even there it was treading water and a second fiddle to Riesling. Gewürztraminer was an afterthought and continues to flail close […]

Mondial du Chasselas: Les Palmarès 2017

Whatever you call it—the Super Bowl of chasselas, the World Cup of fendant or the NBA Finals of gutedel—make no mistake, this is the Grand Daddy of them all: the Mondial du Chasselas. Sporting analogies are particularly apropos in this, the year of the upset. Never one to flinch at competition, I answered the call […]

Profile: Domaine La Colombe (Féchy, La Côte, Vaud)

While Lavaux primps and preens for the camera, its sibling, La Côte, is quietly at work behind the scenes. With nearly three times the vines of Lavaux, La Côte receives only a fraction of the attention. It has no dramatic terraces to seduce camera-laden tourists and no Grand Cru AOC’s to offer them. Its languid vineyards flow gently […]

Salvagnin or Servagnin: Which Is It?

There’s almost never a thought given to the rare benefits of the Black Death pandemic of the Middle Ages but the existence of Servagnin de Morges is one of them. The story begins more than 600 years ago in France with one of the most consequential edicts in wine history: (The Duke of Burgundy) Philip the […]

 Plant Robert: A Tasting at the Cully Bazar

Even though it’s back from the brink, the grape known as Plant Robert remains endangered and little known. Absent a timely intervention it would have been lost decades ago to urban sprawl—in 1966 the last parcel in existence was condemned to make way for the A9 autoroute. Today its eight hectares are spread among several […]