“Proscht” is a word you have probably never said lifting a wine, which is a pity as Swiss wine deserves to be lifted up your wine list. Swiss wines are perhaps the best you’ve never tasted. 5,000 hectares of vines are cultivated in the alpine country, ranking it tenth in the world in terms of vineyards-to-country-surface-area ratio. The Swiss produce a million liters of wine. And drink it most themselves.

Only 2 % is exported from the six grape-growing regions of Valais, Vau, German-speaking Switzerland, Geneva, Ticino, and the Three Lakes region. Over 200 grape varieties are grown. The most popular are Chasselas (white) and Pinot Noir (red)- also called Blauburgunde or Clevener and exemplified by Andreas Weingut Pur Wuerlingen and Weingut Zum Sterner.  Other popular varieties include Gamay, Merlot, Humagne Rouge, Arvine, and Gamaret.

Louis Bovard Dezaley Medinette AOC Grand Cru Swiss Wines

Louis Bovard Dezaley Medinette AOC Grand Cru

Chasselas is a very old native Swiss grape variety, also known as Fendant.  Switzerland’s most famous wine-growing area is the Unesco World Heritage site of Lavaux in Vaud. It dates from the 12th century when Cistercian monks planted the Dézaley vineyard in terraces on the slopes next to Lake Geneva. The grapes in the Lavaux are said to benefit from ‘three suns’ – the sun itself, the heat emitted by the walled terraces, and the light reflected off the lake. The two Grands Crus here are Dézaley and Calamin.  Bovard is a tenth generation grower based in Cully.

Domaine des Muses Humagne Blanc Tradition & Petite Arvine swiss wine

Domaine des Muses Humagne Blanc Tradition & Petite Arvine

Having studied in Dijon, Robert Taramaracz of Sierre makes some of Switzerland’s finest wines, Including Humagne Blanc Tradition and his “Polymie Seduction” sweet wine. Petite Arvine is almost exclusively grown in Valais where it produces dry or sweet (“flétris”) wines of international standard, with a citrus aroma and refreshing acidity.

Rouvinez Soleil D'Or Humagne Rouge swiss wine

Rouvinez Soleil D’Or Humagne Rouge

The Rouvinez Soleil D’Or Humagne Rouge swiss wines are also known as Cornalin. Mellifluously black fruitiness. Oaky notes.

Rene Germanier Amigne de Vetroz swiss wine
Rene Germanier Armigne de Vetroz

Rene Germanier Armigne de Vetroz is the perfect wine with pies with cream or fruit salads. Great with blue cheeses such as Roquefort. The Balavaud vineyards go back to 1896.Olivier Roten Cave du Paradis Heida Paeine and Oiel de Pedrix swiss wines
Olivier Roten Cave Du Paradis Heida Paeine and Oiel de Pedrix

Paien, called Heida in Upper Valais, is a white wine that comes from the Savagnin grape known as Traminer. Gewurztraminer is a genetic mutation of this grape. It was first grown near Visperterminen, Europe’s highest vineyard. The inspiration behind Californian white zinfandel, the sparkling Partridge’s eye win may have originated in Champagne. A specialty of Neuchatel, it is made from free-run rather than pressed Pinot Noir juices.

Johannisberg swiss wine

Rene Favre Et Fils Johannisberg

The name Johannisberg is only used in Valais. The rest of French-speaking Switzerland call it Gros Rhin. The grape used to make Johannisberg is the Grüner Sylvaner.  Tending the world’s oldest Petite Arvine vines, the fils Mike and John, who lived in the US for seven years, have their  120-year-old family vineyards in St.Pierre-de-Clages in Chamoson.

Robert Gilliard Dole Des Monts swiss wine

Robert Gilliard Dole Des Monts

A traditional red blend of Pinot Noir and Gamy. Dole is Switzerland’s most popular red wine, and this is regarded as one of the finest. Although the requirement for the appellation is only 51% Pinot Noir, Dole de Monts is always a minimum of 75% Pinot Noir. After the assemblage, the wine is aged for five to nine months (depending on the vintage) in large oak barrels, some of which are more than 100 years old. Salvagnin is Vaud’s version of Dôle, Track down a bottle of  Les Murettes Fendant Sion.

Chappaz Valais Grain Noble Marsanne Blanche swiss wine

Chappaz Valais Grain Noble Marsanne Blanche

Based at Fully, Swiss wine icon Marie-Therese Chappaz farms bio-dynamically. She is also a master in the art of vinifying sweet and dessert wines. Try her Petite Arvine Cuvee as well.  In fact, everything Marie-Therese makes. She also makes her own range of herbal teas!