Chasselas and Fendent
Wines from Switzerland
E Wine of the Week
By Bruce Cochran
After the previous 286 issues, you’d think that we’d have just about covered the world of wine, but this week we’ll look at a place that we’ve never discussed before. And curiously, it’s a very famous place that many readers have visited.
If you’re in Little Rock on March 10, the next Little Rock Dine Around Series dinner will be at Trio’s. Purchase your seats online at brucecochran.com, where you can also find the menu and wine list, which includes a wine new to our area, Wildhurst Vineyards of Lake County, California just north of Napa.
Try a new wine this week!
Cave de la Cote’s “Dubaril”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Swiss wines in our local market, so it’s nice to see these new arrivals. You might not have thought a lot about wines grown in Switzerland, but great wines are made all around it, so why not within it?
The country is famous for its mountains, of course, and has the highest average altitude of any European country except Spain. (I know, I was surprised about Spain, too). The high mountain valleys in the southern and western parts of the country are where most of the vineyards are found. Districts, called cantons in Switzerland, with names like Vaud, Valais and Geneva, are north of Italy and east of France, mostly around Lake Geneva.
The lake is yet another wine-world example of the affect that a body of water has on surrounding temperature. Holding the day’s heat and slowly releasing it at night helps to ripen nearby grapes in a cold climate. And, planting grape varieties that thrive in colder climates helps, too.
The traditional varieties are Chasselas for whites and Fendent for reds. Today, more grapes like Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Grigio are being grown as well. Part of the reason is warmer weather in recent years, as well as the fact that these varieties are popular.
At this month’s eWine Sampling we tasted a white wine from the Chasselas grape made by Cave de la Cote (translates from French as “cave of the slope”). They call it “Dubaril” and I don’t know what that word means. It retails for $11.99 or so. This light, unoaked white is softly dry, and a little less crisp (tart) than some Swiss Chasselas I’ve had in the past, possibly due to the warmer weather of recent years. It’s simple, balanced, and, I think, very good as an aperitif or to accompany light dishes. This wine is a great way for many of us to expand our horizons and taste a new grape variety from a new place (at least new to us).