- Vaud, Switzerland
The Rhône river was one of these ancient highways and one that linked the Mediterranean to the Alps. Depending on your perspective, Rhône wines do not end or begin at Vienne but continue all the way up to the Swiss village of Brig, where you can find some of the highest vineyards in Europe.
Heading upstream and just past the border between France and Switzerland, the Rhône widens and redirects itself in a great arch forming Lac Léman. Its northerly course veers easterly before turning to flow southeast, making the steep slopes of the north shore of Lac Léman an ideal spot for viticulture. It should come as no surprise that the Cistercian monks, rightly famous for being the first to recognize the potential of the terroir of Burgundy, were also the early pioneers of grape growing in this part of Switzerland known as Lavaux. From the city of Lausanne to the town of Monthey, most of the best villages and sites for Swiss wines are situated: Epesses, Cully, Calamin, Dézaley, St-Saphorin, Vevey, Villeneuve, Yvorne, Aigle, Ollon, and Bex.
Domaine Louis Bovard is a ten-generation family estate located in the town of Cully on the north bank of Lac Léman. Proponents of the indigenous Chasselas, the Domaine tends a repository (Le Conservatoire Mondial du Chasselas) of the various massale selections of the variety to preserve the biodiversity of the Chasselas grape and better understanding how different selections express themselves in the various terroirs of Switzerland. The steep, terraced vineyards of the Domaine are farmed sustainably with some biodynamic practices. Vineyard work is manual, dictated by the narrowness of the terraces, and harvests are assisted by mechanical lifts that transport small crates of freshly harvested grapes to the top of the slope – much like one can find in parts of the Mosel or Ribeira Sacra.
Once the white varieties arrive at the cellar, they are crushed and allowed a short time on their skins before pressing. After the must settles, it is transferred to large wooden foudres or French oak barrels for fermentation and aging on the lees. The Chasselas from Dézaley and Aigle are naturally allowed to go through malo. Often seen as fairly neutral and preferably consumed in its youth, Chasselas at Domaine Louis Bovard proves that this conventional wisdom is utterly baseless. The dramatic differences between Aigle and Dézaley prove that Chasselas can transmit unique expressions of the sites where it is planted. These are riveting examples of alpine wine that not only capture the floral freshness of their settling but also reward those patient enough to resist their youthful charms.
This profile and tasting notes were edited from the European Cellars website, along with the pictures used. For more information please visit: European Cellars.