Five Great Zurich Wines
Zurich is the largest Swiss city – with vineyards. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 400 hectares of vineyards across what is now the city. Today there are still 14 hectares planted with all kinds of varieties. Of course, there used to be many more.
Overbuilding and the emergence of phylloxera led to this marked loss. Fortunately, Zurich successfully saved a small part of its vineyards from extinction. From an oenological point of view, the city belongs to the geographic cultivation area of Lake Zurich.
In addition to the beautifully situated vineyards on the shores of this idyllic lake, there are other wine-producing regions throughout the canton of Zurich: Zürcher Weinland, Limmattal, Zürcher Unterland and Winterthurer Weinland. For a long time, the wines from this German-speaking part of Switzerland had a dubious reputation. The wines produced were thin, ready-to-drink and not very expressive. Today, most wines still present themselves as uncomplicated, easily accessible – gentle, charming everybody’s darlings. But that is only half the truth. Like everywhere across Switzerland, a movement has become active in the canton of Zurich, striving for authentic, high-quality wines with a strong character. A young generation of winegrowers is convinced that only quality products stand a chance on the market compared to internationally produced (more affordable) wines.
Pinot noir Chlosterberg Besson-Strasser Winery,
Uhwiesen – 2020
The biodynamically produced Pinot noir represents the top quality in the canton and, indeed, in Switzerland. The vines are over 50 years old. The wine matures in barrels. The result is an authentic, aromatically complex, finessed, lasting wine that finds itself in a class of its own.
CHF 38 | wein.ch
Plural Weingut erich meier,
Uetikon – 2018
This speciality from Lake Zurich consists mainly of the Diolinoir variety, bred in 1970, refined with a little Pinot noir. Its characteristics make it a successful wine: intense purple, fruity-spicy bouquet, full body, and soft tannins.
CHF 34 | bauraulacvins.ch
Züri Prior City of Zurich
Prior is a so-called Piwi variety, a fungus-resistant new breed that requires little spraying. The winemaker of the city of Zurich, Karin Schär, presses a fresh, light red wine with little tannin from it, which is best served slightly chilled. By 2027, the entire Chillesteig vineyard will be converted to Piwi grapes.
CHF 19.50 | stadt-zuerich.ch
Räuschling Seehalden Weinbau Schwarzenbach,
Meilen – 2021
This high-quality white variety grows almost exclusively on Lake Zurich. From this single vineyard, the top winery produces a dry, long-lived, compact, robust and yet elegant Räuschling with cult potential.
CHF 27 | schwarzenbach-weinbau.ch
Riesling Pircher Winery,
Eglisau – 2021
Riesling is one of the greatest white wine varieties in the world and is hardly found in Switzerland. The renowned winery from the Zürcher Weinland, however, succeeds in making a wine that is typical of the variety: dry with a barely perceptible residual sweetness, light, crisp, juicy, and elegant.
CHF 25 | weingut-pircher.ch
Their motto is ecology, sustainability and craftsmanship – instead of technology. Zurich is serious about Blauburgunder, as Pinot noir is often called here. At the top of the quality hierarchy are the wineries Besson-Strasser from Uhwiesen (see wine tips) and Pircher from the Zürcher Weinland. Among the whites, in addition to the popular Riesling-Silvaner, the canton has one of the most exciting specialities of all, the Räuschling. This variety is cultivated almost exclusively in Zurich. The trendsetter for this grape is the Schwarzenbach winery in Meilen, whose Räuschling Seehalden has considerable ripening potential and is represented in the Mémoire des Vins Suisses association.
This treasure trove of Swiss wine contains around 60 crus that can age for at least ten years or more. In addition to the three varieties mentioned, the wineries passionately nurture a considerable number of other types. It is exciting to witness them bringing these largely hidden treasures to the surface.
Words Peter Keller
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