Bravo Switzerland: Some Recommended Swiss Wines

During the last six months I had the privilege of dining twice at Rochat and twice at Pont de Brent, two leading Michelin three star restaurants in Switzerland. I used the opportunity to taste as many Swiss wines as possible and they turned out to be intriguing to say the least. Below are my recommendations and rankings.

2004 Luigi Zanini Vinattierri:

100% Merlot from Ticino (appelation Besazio). Dark and brooding. Wild mushrooms and damp leaves on the nose. Complex and well balanced acids and tannins. It combines the sensual nature of a Bolgheri Merlot and the breed of a Pomerol. Oak is very well integrated. Long finish.  A

2002 Castello Luigi Rosso (also by Luigi Zanini):

In a class of its own. It seems like there is a little cabernet, but its predominantly Merlot. Very Old World in style. Tremendous intensity and great structure, but also charming and elegant. It seduces, but it has a remarkable grip too. I can’t say that it is better than a Petrus or Le Pin, but it is not a lesser wine. Simply a great wine. A+

2007 H.U. Kesselring, Sauvignon Blanc, Thurgovia:

Not without character. Intense but not heavy. Smokey component is not due to over-oaking. Developed a lychee component by aeration.  B

2007 Philip Darioly, Petite Arvine, “Martingny”, Valais:

An intriguing cepage (Petite Arvine). Good cut and penetration. Full bodied and rich in glycerine but not cloying or dull. Nice minerality. Good match with rich seafood.  B+

2007 H Crouchon, Altesse, “Morges”, Vaud:

This is the equivalent to the Roussette cepage of Savoy. I have very limited experience with this. I was struck by its minerality and the way it developed in the glass revealing exotic fruits and very solid backbone. Where does the smokiness come from? It held itself well against triple cream-like cheeses. I like this very much.  A-

2004 Domaine Cornulus,  Cornalin “Coeur du Clos”, Sierre, Valais:

My first experience with this cepage called Cornalin.  I would have guessed it is a Chave St. Joseph. A touch rustic. Smoked meat and blood on the nose. Develops well and becomes more delicate in the glass. Intriguing. Not for everybody, but no one can deny that it has great character and balance.  B+

2005 Daniel Hubert, Merlot, Montagna Ragisa:

Another Merlot from Ticino. It has elegance and good concentration. Almost Burgundian spices on the nose. Not as intense as Luigi Zanini wines, but this too is very well made. The finish is quite persistent. It should develop well as it has good acid and tannin balance. A-

2006 Gantenbein Pinot Noir:

A very unique Pinot Noir from the Grisons forest. Had I tasted it blind with Bourgognes, I would not have noticed that it is indeed not a Chambolle Musigny 1st Cru. It had not shed its baby fat and was a touch over-oaked, but this dissipated in the glass revealing a hard and pretty core. OK it does not have the unique charm and elegance of a Grand Cru Bourgogne, but who does? Much better than the highly touted and priced American Pinot Noirs, such as Marcassin and Kistler (which tend to be rather heavy). B+