Monday, 6 July 2009


As we have noted you have to go to the different wine areas of Switzerland to find the respective wines (it is difficult to find Zurich wines in Geneva for example). An exception is Weinkeller Mowenpick who have branches all over Switzerland and also in Germany and Liechtenstein. As a result we bought Zurich, Valais and Ticino wines in their branch near the Badische Bahnhof in Basel.

These included some of the characteristic Swiss wines made from Gamaret,
Chasselas (Fendant) and a new one on Slotovino, a Cabernet Jura from Zurich which we were assured is a distinctive variety.
In fact it turns out to be a recent crossing by the appropriately named Valentin Blattner of Cabernet Sauvignon and 'resistenter Partner'. The suffix Jura comes from the Swiss canton where Mr. Blattner is located. Blattner describes the characteristics as follows but doesn't elaborate on what the 'resistenter Partner' may be other to say that they are not vitis amurensis as in many crossings whose positive attributes he says do not always last.

Reife - mittelfrüh
Austrieb - früh
Wuchs - sehr aufrecht, aber mit lange Seitentriebe
Traube - gross, locker
Beerengrösse - klein
Reifeüberschreitung - hält sehr gut, ab 100 °Oe beginnt die Beere zu trocknen
Produktionseigenschaften - wenig Auslauben, ev. Ertragsregulierung
Krankheitsresistenz - Falscher Mehltau sehr gut, Echter Mehltau mittel, Botrytis sehr gut
Önologisches Potenzial - intensive Farbe, Rosenduft, Heidelbeer, Holunder, feines Tannin

So now we know.

We also bought a Merlot from Ticino just to try to understand what makes this the signature grape of Italian Switzerland almost to the exclusion of all others.

The internet pointed us to another wine merchant in Basel, Musik und Wein. This turns out to be a highly idiosyncratic undertaking, for Switzerland, incredibly so. We assumed this was an initiative of some of the players of either the Symphony or Opera Orchestra in Basel on the side open only in the afternoons (between rehearsals and performances?) but the truth is it is an adjunct to a Hi-Fi dealership also interested in wine. We arrived at 13.00, an hour before opening time and were accosted by the kind representative and given the run of the place out of hours. The selection was not tremendous but we picked up a bottle of Cornalin at not too exorbitant a price.

Walking through town we stumbled serediptously across what must be one of the losngest established and most elegant wine merchants of Basel, Paul Ulrich AG (

There may be found a range of Swiss wines mainly from the French speaking part with nothing from Zurich. We were directed towards a good Humagne rouge; again a variety which had not exactly bowled us over in the past so a purchase to re-inforce or overturn prejudice.

In Mulhouse, there appeared to be no especially prominent caviste. We were directed to Nicolas and told the place to go was Turckheim. However, we found Caviste Jacques Baumann (depuis 1912) in the centre and although the selection was not extensive the gentleman in charge was kindly and knowledgeable. When asked for his driest Muscat and lightest Pinot Noir d'Alsace he pointed us in the direction of Schlumberger on both counts.

We had been looking for Knipperle, an obsolete Alsacian variety previously used to make everyday wines but no one we met in Alsace had heard of it.

With 8 bottles in the suitcase safely dropped off at the BA check in, we took another look at the EuroAirport Duty Free but this time were sorely disappointed. Some lines seem to have been sold out and not replaced since we were last there in mid-May and the only bottle which looked interesting was a Freibach Schaffhausen Pinot Noir Auslese at E. 23.50 or CHF. 38, more than any of the bottles we had bought landside either in Basel or in Mulhouse. So much for price reductions at this airport. We were mildly interested to see the term 'Auslese' applied to a red table wine but not THAT interested.

One last point on the Swiss wines we saw, several didn't mention the country of origin. We assume this was not in order to disguise their provenance, more a kind of campanalismo.

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