Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Visiting (and Tasting the Wines of) Tamborini SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, Ticino, Switzerland

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Valentia Tamborini

As part of the 2014 Digitul Wine Communications Conference in Montreux, Switzerland, I explored the wines of Ticino during a post-conference press trip. This posting - Visiting (and Tasting the Wines of) Tamborini SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, Switzerland - is the fifth in a series of postings (see below) emanating from my visit of Ticino. Valentina is a trained winemaker and will eventually take over the winery - the next generation.

Tamborini SA is a large negociant/grower producer, with a portfolio of 32 different wines - from its own vineyards (30 hectares) as well as from grapes produced by about 100 producers who sell the grapes they produce to Tamborini SA. We were received by Valentia Tamborini, who also joined us for lunch, and were briefly greeted by her father Claudio Tamborini.

Pictures: Tamborini SA

See also:
Exploring the Wines of Ticino in Ticino, the Italian Speaking Part of Switzerland
Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland
Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland
Visiting Cantina Kopp von der Crone Visini and Tasting with Barbara von der Crone and Paolo Visini in Barbengo, Ticino, Switzerland
Visiting (and Tasting the Wines of) Tamborini SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, Ticino, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vini e Distillati Angelo Delea SA, with David Delea, Switzerland
Touring an Tasting the Wines of Agriloro SA and Diner with Owner Meinrad Perler, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vinattieri Ticinesi, Switzerland
Lunch at Ristorante Montalbano in Stabio, Switzerland

Wine Producer Switzerland

Switzerland is a small wine producer with about 15 000 hectares of vineyards only. This is about 15 percent of Germany’s total winegrowing area and a bit more than 1 percent of that of Spain. Only less than 2% of the wine is exported, mainly to Germany.

Switzerland's particular situation - in between four wine-producing nations (France, Italy, Germany and Austria) and itself divided into four different areas with different languages and traditions - has resulted in an extreme diversity of its wines.

Picture: Map of Switzerland

Switzerland has an extensive range of grape varieties. Among the white grapes, the Chasselas is the most widespread. Müller-Thurgau, cultivated above all in the German speaking part of Switzerland, and Sylvaner are also popular. The main red grape varieties are Pinot Noir, which can be found in all the wine-producing regions of Switzerland, and Gamay, which predominates in the Valais; Merlot has found a second home in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino.


Ticino is a quite distinct winemaking zone in Switzerland, totaling 1000 hectares. The canton Ticino (and the wine region Tecino) is divided into two regions by the dividing line of the Monte Ceneri Pass: Sopraceneri in the north and Sottoceneri in the south. The Sopraceneri soils are rather stony with a full complement of silt and sand, while the Sottoceneri soils are limestone and deep, rich clays. Ticino's climate is Mediterranean.

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller in Lugano

There are a total of about 3600 grape growers in Ticino and 200 or so winemakers, including a co-operative. The 200 or so winemakers range from pure negociant-type producer (who buy all the grapes the use for their wine) to winemakers that only use their own grapes for making wine. Vineyards are generally small, steep plots of between 3 ha and 6 ha and yields are at 70 hl/ha. 15 winemakers account for about 80% of the total production. The co-op produces 1 million bottles annually.

Merlot is the dominant grape variety. The Ticino Merlot ranges from easy drinking, including white, Merlots to ultra-premium Merlots that can compete with the best in the world (including Bordeaux) and cost US$50 to US$150 per bottle.

Tamborini SA

Tamborini SA was founded in 1944 by Carlo Tamborini in Lemone, Ticino, Switzerland. In 1968, Carlo’s son, Claudio Tamborini, took over. Under Claudio Tamborini, the company evolved from primarily being a wine merchant to primarily being a winemaker.

Today, the wine portfolio of Tamborini SA includes 32 wines. The vineyard area totals 32 hectares. Claudio Tamborini also buys grapes from about 100 producers who do not make their own wine but sell the grapes they produce to Tamborini SA (about the same amount he grows himself).

Pictures: Tamborini SA Wine Portfolio

Total production is about 70.000 cases. Tamborini SA accounts for 7% of the total wine output of Ticino. Half of the production is sold in Ticino, 45% is sold in the French speaking and German speaking parts of Switzerland and 5% is exported – a lot of it to Germany.

In addition to wine, Tamborini SA also produces honey, olive oil and grappa. The olive oil production started in 1990, when Claudio Tamborini decided to press the olives of his Colle degli Ulivi Estate to extract olive oil.

Grappa is now a protected name in the European Union. To be called grappa, the brandy needs to be produced in Italy, or in the Italian part of Switzerland. There are about 500 grappa produces in Ticino, of which 10 produce grappa on a larger scale.

Pictures: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, Christian G.E. Schiller and Claudio Tamborini, Swiss Winemaker of the Year 2012


Valentia Tamborini poured the following wines for us.

Pictures: Tasting

Ticino DOC
White Merlot
Vineyard: Gudo
Vinification: Stainless steel vats
The vineyard Terre di Gudo is located in the municipality of Gudo, near Bellinzona. It consists of several parcels of over 7 ha of land planted with Merlot and Carminoir. It produces a white wine and a red wine under the brand "Terre di Gudo".

Ticino Doc
Chardonnay (60%, aged for 12 months in new oak), Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Merlot (20%)
Tenuta San Zeno is located in the municipality of Lamone, 5 km north of Lugano. It consists of 5 ha of vineyards planted with Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, along with an accommodation facility with cellars. A specific parcel is dedicated to the premium wine "Costamagna", produced only in the very best years. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are planted in the hill facing east for the production of white "Mosaico".

Ticino Doc

Reserve indicates that the wine was for 18 months in the cellar, in a barrel, tank or bottle; 30% was aged in second year barrique

Ticino Doc
Seducing tannins. A wine of great elegance.

Ticino DOC
Vineyard of about 1.5 hectares called 'the Brughi' in the municipality of Comano.
Maceration on the skins for 20 days and Aged in new oak barrels for 12-18 months.


After the tasting we were treated to a fabulous lunch by Valentia Tamborini. We had a choice of a white and a red wine from Tamborini SA to go with a simple and delicious 3 course menu of Ticino specialities.

Pictures: Lunch at Grotto Ticinese dal 1888 with Valentia Tamborini

VALLOMBROSA Bianco di Ticino
Ticino DOC
Chardonnay and Merlot
Vinification: In stainless steel vats

Ticino DOC
Tenuta San Domenico, in the town of Neggio, Malcantone
Vinification: In stainless steel vats

schiller-wine: Related Posting

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

The 2014 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Switzerland 

The Wines of Weingut Saxer, a Winemaker in the German-speaking part of Switzerland

The Wines of Switzerland – Grand Tasting with (and Introduction to Swiss Wines by) Jancis Robinson and José Vouillamoz

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