We’ve just got back from a few days away visiting a very good friend – close enough for us to consider her an adopted daughter – in Geneva. Our trip gave us an opportunity to enjoy meals with her at some of that city’s excellent restaurants and, for me, a bonus of a rare chance to taste some Swiss wines, which are almost impossible to find outside the country.
Although wine is made in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons (administrative regions), I tried to focus on bottles from the area most local to where we were staying; wines made with grapes ripened on the wonderfully exposed south-facing slopes overlooking Lake Geneva. Another consideration in choosing was that temperatures for our entire stay were well into the 30s (90°F and above) and so we were looking for refreshing chilled whites. Chasselas is the most widely-planted local white variety but it rarely produces really characterful wines and something else caught my eye on one restaurant’s list.
Domaine Dugerdil has its vineyards just to the west of Geneva at Dardagny and their organically-grown Pinot Blanc was delicious. Dry and medium- to full-bodied with lovely savoury, spicy flavours, a rich, creamy palate and excellent length. I was surprised to see 14.5% alcohol, but the wine was well-balanced with no burn on the finish and paired beautifully with the pan-fried Lake perch – the signature dish of every local restaurant.
At Neuchâtel, a few miles to the north, one of the local specialities is known as ‘Oeil de Perdrix’ (Partridge’s eye), a dry rosé made from Pinot Noir. Of course, rosés, too, can be chilled and I chose an example from Châtenay Bouvier to accompany another excellent fishy meal. Quite deeply coloured (many Oeil de Perdrix wines are barely pink at all), this was fresh, clean and smoky and, although bone dry, had lovely strawberry fruit, good intensity and a long finish.
I’ve just picked out 2 examples of the wines we enjoyed while we were in Geneva. Clearly, the locals know a good thing when they taste it; sadly, they keep almost all of it for themselves!