For the past fifteen years, Rosenthal Wine Merchant has been one of the only sources for Swiss wines on the American market. Despite a rich viticultural history going back to the Roman era, the wine-loving Swiss consume 98% of their production themselves, and the little they eke out to export markets inevitably ends up—due to Switzerland’s labor-intensive vineyards and ever-strong currency—being rather expensive. Still, as our dynamic quartet of growers in the Valais prove year after year, Switzerland possesses distinctive terroirs which assert themselves with force, producing deeply characterful, age-worthy wines that sit comfortably alongside those from the better-known stretches of RWM’s beloved Alps.
At a time in which American wine drinkers are spoiled for choice, Swiss wine—which traces its origins back at least to Roman times—remains an enigma. Switzerland’s self-sufficient and insular nature accounts for this in part, as locals consume nearly 99% of the country’s 15,000 hectares worth of production each year. Price has traditionally presented another hurdle, as Switzerland’s relative wealth, combined with the labor-intensive nature of its Alpine viticulture…
Change has come glacially, but now is the time to explore these Alpine imports.
At first glance, Switzerland’s four official languages, six primary wine regions, 26 political cantons, and 62 appellations take some work to wrap your mind around. But the important things to know are fairly straightforward: the Valais and Vaud — mostly French-speaking and in country’s sunny southeast — produce glorious pinot noir and refreshing chasselas that represent almost all of what we see of Swiss wine in the U.S. These are followed by a smattering of whites and reds from the Three Lakes district just above that and then the many little denominations of the north-easternmost region, known plainly as German-speaking Switzerland. There is also Ticino, extending into the Italian boot, ably if curiously meeting this part of the country’s thirst for merlot.
Wine & Spirits Decades of high tariffs kept the country’s wine producers from exporting abroad. But at long last, Swiss bottles are popping up on menus and merchants’ shelves. By Anthony Giglio on February 07, 2017 Any adventurous skier who has the temerity to take four cable cars from the Swiss resort village of Verbier