Swiss Pinot Noir Masterclass

This is the second year we run an Alpine Wines masterclass, last year was an introduction to Switzerland. This year we focused "narrowly" on Swiss Pinot. Which there is a fabulous diversity of - and we have, I must admit, quite a few. What can I say? I have a Pinot Problem.

The panel consisted of me, Joëlle, as UK trade/wine merchant, Gilles Besse as a wine maker, and Anne Krebiehl Master of Wine as an objective critic.

It was very well attended (overbooked at 86 attendants with a waiting list!). Were you there? Please write about it ;)

The wines we used:

  • 2014 Pinot Noir Balavaud Grand Cru, Jean-René Germanier, Valais
  • 2012 Pinot Noir Selection, Weingut Hermann, Graubünden
  • 2011 Pinot Noir No. 3, Schlossgut Bachtobel, Thurgau
  • 2011 Pinot Noir Barrique, Domain de Montmollin, Neuchâtel
  • 2013 Monolith, Obrecht, Graubünden
  • 2013 Lapon, Jean-René Germanier, Valais


It is a lot of work to pitch and put together a masterclass but we hope it will bring us, and Swiss wine, more attention.

PS: We have over 40 different Swiss Pinots and can put together a variety of Pinot tasting case for you. Just give us a call.

The presentation slides can be downloaded on the media page


Pinot Noir Balavaud Grand Cru, Cave Jean-René Germanier

We intentionally started with the unoaked Balavaud Grand Cru to give people an idea of what quality typically Swiss Pinot Noir tastes like. This is the red grape that we in Switzerland mostly drink.

This is a lovely wine - but in a masterclass like this the first wine always has it unfair. As one participant said "I thought the first one was a delicious wine - and then I tasted the others". But for drinking, not talking, it might be the best wine of the whole flight.


The next three wines also are not flagship wines but very good "middle range" wines that represent what we Swiss drink, and are exceptional value when compared with similarly priced Pinot from elsewhere.



Pinot Noir (Selection), Weinbau Hermann

The Hermann Pinot is a very expressive and incredibly "classic" Pinot which shows the warmer Autumns of Graubünden with a slight "new world" wink.




Pinot Noir No. 3, Schlossgut Bachtobel

The Bachtobel is cooler, more subtle and layered, with that feeling of "sous bois" (forest), typical of eastern Switzerland. We are very near the German border here, in Thurgau, in an old estate which also manages woodland, invests in wild roses and wild bee conservation - but their main love is Pinot.

That it is made on an old Press from 1537 is just added romance. 




Pinot Noir (Barrique), Domaine De Montmollin

The Montmollin is a more "French" style, with toasted oak, showing a Burgundian side and yet - to us who grew up with it - unmistakably Swiss. A bit intense right after opening, it really blossoms after a bit of time in the glass.



And now the flagships:


We finished with the Monolith an intense single vineyard Pinot - the kind of wine that makes Graubünden revered in Germany.

Monolith, Obrecht in der Sonne




Not available to buy yet, the rare Lapon (after "laper" which means "quaff") which is a single vineyard Pinot grown at 800m, fermented in the barrel, spontaneously, slowly. For me this was the highlight as I had not been able to taste this wine before, it being bottled only in Magnum. 

The Valais produces the most Pinot in Switzerland, from the enjoyably easy drinking wine we started on, to masterpieces like this.


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