Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Visit of (and Wine Tasting at) Vinattieri Ticinesi, Ticino, Switzerland

Picture: The Group at Vinattieri Ticinesi

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 – Visit of (and Wine Tasting at) Vinattieri Ticinesi, Ticino, Switzerland - is the eight in a series of postings (see below) emanating from my visit of Ticino.

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
Visiting Azienda Mondo in Ticini, Switzerland
Visit of (and Wine Tasting at) Vinattieri Ticinesi, Ticino, Switzerland
Touring an Tasting the Wines of Agriloro SA and Diner with Owner Meinrad Perler, 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.

Vinattieri Ticinesi

Vinattieri Ticinesi is a large grower/negociant producer, owned by Luigi Zanini and his son Luigi jun. Zanini.

Luigi Zanini’s story is the story of a “dish washer becoming a millionaire”. He was borne in Italy. In 1957 at the young age of 17, he came to Ticino and started to work as a junior employee of a soda producer. 7 years later, in 1964, he moved into the wine business and founded a wine trading company - Zanini & Sulmoni SA – which today still accounts for ¾ of the overall turnover.

Wine making moved to the fore, when he founded with his son Luigi jun. Vinattieri Ticinese SA in 1985. Many call Luigi Zanini the father of the premium Merlot del Ticino wines.

Pictures: Vinattieri Ticinesi

In 1988, Luigi Zanini built Castello Luigi, a neoclassical castle, and started to produce Castello Luigi Rosso, arguably one of the best Merlots of Switzerland and a top Merlot by world standards. For Luigi Zanini, we heard, Castello Luigi is the culmination of his work and his career. We did not have a chance to visit Castello Luigi and its impressive winemaking facilities, but were lucky to taste the wine, both the red and the white wine.

Today, Vinattieri Ticines manages about 100 hectares of vineyards, compared with 30 hectares 10 years earlier. Annual production is 50.000 cases.


Pictures: Tasting

2013 Vinattieri Bianco Sfr. 24

Ticino DOC, Merlot 100%
The Vinattieri is produced since 1985. Output decreased from initially 25,000 to now 10,000 bottles a year, with yields much lower since 1995.

2012 Ronco dell’Angelo Sfr. 26

Ticino Doc, Merlot 100%, the label was designed by the Swiss architect Mario Botta, vinification in wooden vats of 4000 liters, aging for 18 months partly in barriques and partly in wooden vats of 4000 liters, annual production of about 20,000 bottles

2012 Roncaia Riserva Sfr. 24

Ticino DOC, Merlot 100%, vinification in wooden vats of 4000 liters, aging for 18 months partly in barriques and partly in wooden vats of 4000 liters

2011 Ligornetto Sfr. 45

2012 Ligornetto

Ticino Doc, Merlot 100%, from vineyards in the village Ligornetto, vinification in wooden vats, ageing 18 months in new oak barrels, 25,000 bottles a year

2011 Trevigne Sfr. 35

2009 Vinattieri

2011 Vinattieri Luna Sfr. 150

2011 Castello Luigi Sfr. 125

2012 Castello Luigi Bianco Sfr. 110

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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