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.
PS: We were sold out of this wine, but it is landing at our Warehouse as I write this on May 10th.
The next three wines also are not flagship wines but very good "middle range" wines that represent exceptional value when compared with similarly priced wines 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.
We finished with the Monolith (of which we have maybe half a dozen bottles left!) 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.