Like most Swiss-produced items the wines of Switzerland are precise and expensive. Switzerland’s wine production is fairly small, especially compared to its geographical neighbours, and most of which stays on Swiss soil. Only 2-3% of Swiss wine currently leaves its borders into the international market – explaining the lack of knowledge about these wines.
Overall Switzerland is a white-wine producing country – the leading grape is Chasselas. Though one might think all of the white wines would be light and refreshing with high acidities, like the cool climate suggests, the Swiss are fond of fuller bodied whites. They accomplish this by picking the grapes later so they gain riper and more stone-fruit flavours tied in with putting the wines through malolactic fermentation – the process behind the buttery flavours of most Chardonnays.
Main Grapes or styles
Chasselas – a white grape variety that is almost solely planted in Switzerland for wine production. It is capable of producing wines that are both bland as well as excellent whites that could compete with those of Burgundy in France. Green apple and peaches are leading aromas.
Pinot Noir – the second most important grape variety after Chasselas. Pinot Noir has proven to be the best red grape varietal for Switzerland and is increasingly being planted and making delicious red wines.
Valais – is the largest wine region and is found just south of Lake Geneva. The vineyards are incredibly steep where they are terraced and pulley-systems are used for ease. Alongside Chasselas the grapes of Petite Arvine and Marsanne are making incredible wines.
Vaud – is the second most important wine region and is largely planted with Chasselas. Increasingly Pinot Noir is being planted on the warmer slopes of the region, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
Climate and its effect on the wines made here
Mountain ranges help to craft Switzerland’s unique terrain especially in the south. This altitude is the leading reason why Switzerland is able to produce such fruit-forward styles of wine with ripe and concentrated flavours. Whites and reds alike are made on the slopes of hills and mountains across Switzerland.