Culinary Arts
3 min read

A tour of the Swiss vineyards with wine specialist, Chandra Kurt

Swiss wine specialist and author, Chandra Kurt, takes us on an initiatory journey through various wine appellations, presenting her favorite Swiss wines and seasonal dishes.

The guide

Chandra Kurt is one of Switzerland's best-known wine critics and writers. For 32 years, the "publisher" as she prefers to call herself, has been working in the Swiss and international wine spheres. She has been responsible for numerous publications and books, primarily aimed at the average person, with a style and pedagogy that have enabled her to reach a large number of wine lovers.

Born in Colombo (Sri Lanka) to a father from Berne and a mother from Emilia-Romagna, Chandra shares an international vision of life and her profession. It was therefore only natural that she should associate herself with top world specialists, lending her Swiss wine expertise to writing projects for celebrities such as the English Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. As an ambassador of Swiss wine, she likes to present her vineyard selection, as much for its diversity as for its quality, to Swiss and foreigners who wish to discover it.

 

The tour

Valais

For Chandra, the starting point of this itinerary has to be the Valais region. Its alpine landscape and native grape varieties are a gift for the wine pilgrimage enthusiast. She invites us to discover the Heida, a white grape variety planted in the highest vineyards in Europe, capable of seducing any newcomer with its fragrance, concentration and freshness. She also opts for a Dôle (a red blend of Gamay and Pinot noir) from the famous winemaker Marie-Thérèse Chappaz, for the purity, simplicity and pleasure it gives. Chandra suggests accompanying both of them with a juicy farm chicken and porcini mushrooms.

 

Vaud

Next stop, the panoramic Vaud canton, which has you falling in love with the Swiss vineyards. It is also the capital of the national white grape variety, the Chasselas. "While other countries eat it as a table grape, we drink it in our wines," the Zurich publisher likes to remind us. She appreciates the depth and complexity of this Lavaux grape variety, sublimated in the great vintages of Calamin and Dézaley. She also highlights the finesse and freshness of La Côte: "A wine for the thirsty" in the good sense of the word, because it refreshes the palate like a champagne. Usually considered a faithful companion to the fish of the lake, in autumn it matches well with a hunting terrine.

 

Geneva

In Geneva, the vineyard and the city merge, and this urban wine-growing atmosphere is enriched by its French influences. The expert of Swiss wines appreciates this French touch that she finds in the expression of the nectars. She is also sensitive to the purity of Geneva's Gamays, reminding her of the best examples of Beaujolais. These wines are the alter egos of white wines and can accompany fish, cheese or game.

 

The Three Lakes

The Three Lakes is a small but dynamic wine region. Neuchâtel offers unique Pinot Noir know-how: fresh and structured wines with good ageing potential. According to Chandra, it’s the ideal companion for rabbit with mustard. Unfiltered wine is another interpretation of the Chasselas grape that she also likes very much. Its additional concentration allows it to withstand richer dishes, such as frogs' legs in parsley.

 

Ticino

The warmest and most mountainous Ticino canton is one of the few regions to offer all the interpretations of the Merlot grape variety in white, sparkling and red wines. Chandra suggests discovering the white merlot of gastronomy, such as Guido Brivio's Merlot, which is aged in barrels. It is enhanced by a risotto with parmesan cheese and mushrooms. In its red version, the Ticino Merlot is a comforting wine with its seductive fruit, depth and silky structure. Here, our guide favours a more full-bodied meat, such as a venison stew with chestnuts.

 

German-speaking Switzerland

Finally, Chandra returns home to German-speaking Switzerland which contains 17 wine-producing cantons. She enjoys the wines of the Gantenbein family in the Grisons. These Burgundy enthusiasts have succeeded in making exceptional Chardonnays and Pinots Noirs. She believes that "to make a great wine, you have to know the great wines". These wines remind her of the great Burgundians: "Complex and deep wines that you never tire of. They are of great consistency throughout the vintages and last over time". She suggests serving this Pinot Noir with a filet of Rossini beef and the Chardonnay with a guinea fowl with autumn fruits.

This article was originally published in Paris Match:

 

For further reading:

This article was originally published in Paris Match:

https://paris-match.ch/chandra-kurt-le-tour-du-vignoble-helvetique/

 

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Lecturer in oenology at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

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