To be honest before now I use to associate Switzerland with cheese, banks and yodeling. I learnt a touch about Swiss wines in my WSET courses however that’s about it. Even working 6 years in wine retail I had never worked in a place that stocked Swiss wines – however I have to admit I had a few requests over the years for them.
Our European backpacking trip just happened to begin in Switzerland so I thought why not spend a couple of nights to explore Lake Geneva a bit since we were there. There is only so much the internet can tell you about a place and it really didn’t prepare me for the magnificent fairytale vineyard land of Lavaux. You can truly understand why it is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its carefully planned vineyard terraces and the beautiful crystal clue waters of Lake Geneva.
Even though the weather was completely drab when we were there – it will always be one of the most stunning wine regions to me!
Everything in the small villages in the area suggest that wine is the name of the game in this region, from old grape presses displayed in the middle of town to grape inspired coats of arms on statues, and here I was thinking I was wine obsessed!
Nearly every second store is a ‘Caveau’ where you are able to go in and taste wines from the region. I decided to drag the boy on a walk down to a small village called Rivaz, which is home to the Lavaux Vinorama. It was also raining, so I’m sure he wasn’t too impressed with me at the time! Lavaux Vinorama is set into the side of a cliff with a waterfall cascading down beside it. It is the perfect location to try some of Lavaux’s wines in my opinion. Here you are able to watch a 30-minute movie (various language options are available) about the year of a Swiss wine maker after which you can get stuck into some tasting.
The tasting packages are fairly reasonable – however being on a backpacker’s budget I had to choose wisely otherwise we might not be able to afford to eat that night! So we opted for the Chasselas package which was a tasting of 3 white wines made from the chasselas grape with bread, puff pastry sticks and water for 13 CHF = roughly 11 Euro. Chasselas is thought to be a native Swiss grape however this is a bit of a controversial subject I am lead to believe. The Chasselas grapes neutral character allows its wines to express its terroir from the soil composition to the varying climatic conditions of the winemaker’s year.
Chasselas tasting notes:
1. Domaine Paschoud-Ludovic ‘Cret de Plan’ 2010 Chasselas;
Light yellow-green colour, medium acidity, and light body with notes of citrus, herbs and fresh-cut grass. Vibrantly fresh. 11.5 Euro/btl
2. Domaine Blondel ‘L’Arpege Calamin Grand Cru 2010 Chasselas;
Similar light yellowy-green colour with a light-medium body and a touch of fruity sweetness on the start of the palate ending with a grapefruity floral finish. Great apertif. 15.5 Euro/btl
3. Domaine Blaise Duboux Dezaley Grand Cru Corniche 2009 Chasselas;
A notch deeper in colour than the previous two with a much fuller body and higher acidity – more flavours to swirl around in your mouth on this one with similar floral notes and citrus coming through but also a fair bit of minerality. The perfect fondue/raclette accompaniment. 18 Euro/btl
Of course there were a few more bottles consumed on this trip however I have to round-up this post as my French baguette and bottle of rose are calling me down to the Canal du Midi in Carcassonne; so here are my top 3 tips for touring the Lavaux region.
1. Get your walking shoes on – this is the best way to see and experience the breathtaking beauty of the region plus you will come across all the nooks and crannies, which add to Lavaux splendor.
2. I thoroughly recommend staying right in the heart of the region. We were based in Cully at a beautiful little B&B called Le Vigny, which is on the property of Domaine Blondel. Fantastic hospitality, beautiful view from the room, comfy and a lovely brekkie in the morning. For more info click here.
3. If you have an iPhone or iPad, download the wine app ‘VINSVAUDOIS’ without it we would have spent hours trying to track down the B&B – it has an offline GPS and also a lot of information about the vineyards in the area/restaurants/hotels etc.