Switzerland could be one of the world's best wine producing country
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate is one of the most important and influential publications in the international wine world. Working for Robert Parker, one finds the best wine journalists, who, under his guidance, regularly taste wines from the most important wine regions of the world. Among them, Stephan Reinhardt is the critic responsible among other countries for Switzerland.
At the recent "Matter of Taste" event in Zurich, you presented different Pinots noirs as part of a masterclass on Switzerland. Does it mean this is the most interesting Swiss grape variety?
Yes, among others, because it is the most important cultivated red grape in Switzerland. Additionaly, its international reputation makes it an easily understandable topic. In every region I visit on behalf of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, I find Pinot Noir. Moreover, I believe that this variety produces the finest Swiss wines and the most interesting. As a German, I am mostly familiar with Pinots from eastern Switzerland.
What comes to your mind spontaneously when you think of Swiss wines?
Three things: Pinot Noir, Chasselas and native grape varieties - especially those from Valais.
What fascinates you most about Swiss wines?
The diversity of terroirs on such a small territory, I will probably not be able to understand them all. Besides, I hope that Swiss wines express this uniqueness of their terroirs instead of copying styles from abroad, even if they are successful on the international scene. It is by making authentic wines that Switzerland will become one of the best wine producers in the world.
"It is by making authentic wines that Switzerland will become one of the best wine producers in the world." Stephan Reinhardt
In your latest report, you have awarded the Valais winemaker Marie-Thérèse Chappaz with 99 points. This is a highlight for Swiss wine. How did you perceive Marie-Thérèse and how would you speak about her work with a colleague abroad?
She is an authentic winemaker whose work really begins in the vineyard, where you can spend a whole day with her. We feel that she has roots and it can be felt. In the vineyard, she seems less embarrassed than when it comes to tasting her wines. Her wines can not be classified as simple or complex wines because even the most modest wines are deeply imbued with their origin. Moreover, she does not have vineyards that produce single wines, since they are all on steep slopes or are terraced. Her "most modest" Fendant turns out to be a revelation. In the vineyard, you can hardly follow Marie-Therese. It is a real challenge not to be distanced. She crosses her vines at the speed of a Porsche and I kept thinking "what a crazy woman" before catching her up with difficulty. Let's not talk about tastings, during which the authenticity of her wines has made a striong impression on us from first to last. They are all incredibly subtle, transparent and alive; everything coexists in harmony: Marie-Thérèse, her vines and her wines. In my opinion, she is the Romanée Conti of Switzerland.
How did you get to the wine?
The wine came to me and I could not change it. At the time, I was a student and needed money. So I worked at a wine shop in a Munich. This is where the wine was waiting for me, it seduced me and has not let me go since.
What fascinates you about wine?
What fascinates me is that a glass of wine can keep me busy for a long time because it has so much to tell. Tasting and drinking a good wine can be a very emotional experience. And that's what a good wine does without warning you. It tells the story of its origin, the landscape in which it grew, the climate, the vintage, its vinification and even reveals its winemaker. You must occasionally exercise: feel the nose for half an hour or even an hour without touching it and especially without drinking it. You have to get used to it and it takes time, but at some point the wine will start talking.
And if nothing happens ...
Then you do not have to drink it. If, however, it should reveal itself, take notes of your impressions and then try to determine how far you have managed to understand it. Sometimes, it is incredible how you can accurately describe a terroir without ever having set foot on it. Sensuality plays a big role during a tasting. If the senses are not awake, a wine can not fascinate you and, unfortunately, neither disappoint you.
Does wine still have the power to surprise you?
A good wine does just that. Everytime.
And what type of wine do you like?
Each bottle consumed represents my type. To say it in an abstract way: the wine that wants to find my approval must be alive, fresh and digestible, elegant and complex and also be refined. He will definitely invite me to drink more and I will like to remember it.
About the magazine "Wine Advocate"
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate was first published in 1978 in the United States and is one of the most important and influential magazines on the international wine scene.
Under the aegis of Robert Parker, a number of leading journalists and wine critics regularly taste wines from the various wine regions of the world. Stephan Reinhardt is responsible for covering Switzerland.
Since December 2014, Stephan Reinhardt has published 7 articles at regular intervals on Swiss wines, over time he tasted and rated more than 600 wines from Switzerland's six wine regions. He says it himself, he operates in complete independence, during these trips, a selection that is neither complete nor exhaustive.
Critics blame Robert Parker and his company for being kingmakers. However, while a wine rated by Parker at more than 90 out of 100 points will make great sales, it has given Swiss wines collectively an existence on the international stage and this is priceless.