Tuesday, December 30, 2014

South Africa’s Top Wines - Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2015

Pictures: Franschhoek Valley and Cape Town

The undisputed authority in terms of South African wine is the Platter's South African Wine Guide. The 2015 Platter's South African Wine Guide was just released.

For Platters of previous years, see:
Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2014
Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2013
South Africa’s Top Wines - Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2012
Platter´s South Africa Wine Guide 2011

Modern South Africa

I have traveled in South Africa many times in the past 3 decades, in particular during the period 1989 to 1992, when I used to live in Madagascar. When traveling in South Africa today, it quickly becomes evident that apartheid is resting in the dustbin of history. South Africa’s current President is the Zulu Jakob Zuma, who is mired in personal and political controversy. The Txosa Nelson Mandela, who had spent more than 25 years in prison during apartheid, was President in the 1990s and is now a revered elder called "Madiba" ("Papa"). South Africa successfully hosted the Soccer World Cup. The Soccer World Cup was hoped to provide a boost to the tourism industry; but indications are that the expected boost did not materialize, at least not fully. The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to be wide, but is narrowing and a black middle class is emerging. This, however, is not so much evident in the wine region, which continues to be dominated by the whites. 99% of the vineyard area is in the hands of whites. The AIDS pandemic is taking a toll with the HIV infection rate at about 10 percent, though declining.

Over the course of the years, I have detected an increasing openness, pride and camaraderie among all the South Africans – white, colored or black, Boers or Brits; Indians, Jews, Zulus, Txosas or Vendas, I met. Nevertheless, this rainbow society with a share of 75% of blacks, has huge challenges to cope with.

South African Wine Industry

Unlike other New World wine regions, the South African wine industry is strongly influenced by several large wine-cooperatives, including Distel and KWV; in total, there about 60 co-operatives. In addition, there are about 25 trading companies, or negociants, which often operate wineries, but seldom own their own vineyards. Among these are SAVISA, Winecorp, Stellenbosch Vineyards and Graham Beck; Western Wines is among the trading companies that are foreign based and owned; their brand Kumala is by far South Africa’s biggest brand. Over 80% of the total crop is delivered to these large wineries by about 4000 wine growers. However, private wineries have increasingly emerged and seen an impressive growth; there are now about 600 winemakers with their own cellars, most of them in the premium wine segment.

More than half of the total production is exported. The previous Cape powers, the UK and Netherlands, are traditionally the main destinations for wines shipments; but other markets are coming up, including Sweden, Denmark, the USA, Germany and Angola.

The wine industry is firmly in the hands of the whites, both white South Africans and foreign investors. But I had the pleasure to meet Ntsiki Biyela, a female black winemaker, who is producing outstanding wines at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch. Also, the Diemersfontein wine portfolio included a line of wines that was produced in the framework of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) program (to promote the black community's involvement in the South African wine industry-including ownership opportunities for vineyards and wineries).

Platter’s South African Wine Guide 2015

South Africa's well-known Platter's Guide announced its favorite wines for the year 2015 during an opulent evening at the Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town on October 27th, 2014.

The guide, which was originally published from 1980 by John and Erica Platter, offers wine enthusiasts a good cross-section of available wine producers across the country, rating commendable wines using a star rating. Additionally, the guide includes awards such as the Winery of the Year, Red Wine and White Wine of the year and features 50 five star wines.

Swartland-based Sadie Family Wines is the Guide's Winery of the Year for a historic second time. The winery first took the honor in 2010 and it is the only winery to emerge from this year’s stringent judging process with three maximum five star ratings for the 2015 edition of Platter’s.

De Trafford Blueprint Syrah 2012 was named Red Wine of the Year, and DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013, is celebrated as the White Wine of the Year.

The 2015 guide features 50 five star wines, with nine wineries achieving five stars for the first time: Creation Wines, Crystallum, Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy, Fram, Iona, Oldenburg, Porseleinberg, Stellenbosch Vineyards/Flagship and Sumaridge.

The five star achievers for 2015 are:

Cabernet Franc

Warwick Estate Cabernet Franc 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon

Groot Constantia Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Le Riche Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011
Nederburg Wines II Centuries Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Oldenburg Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Stark-Condé Wines Three Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2012


Sadie Family Wines Pofadder 2013

Petit Verdot

Stellenbosch Vineyards Flagship Petit Verdot 2010


Flagstone Winery Time Manner Place Pinotage 2012
Kanonkop Estate Black Label Pinotage 2012

Pinot Noir

Creation Wines Reserve Pinot Noir 2013
Crystallum Cuvée Cinéma Pinot Noir 2013
Newton Johnson Vineyards Family Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013
Sumaridge Wines Pinot Noir 2012


Boekenhoutskloof Winery Syrah 2012
Boschendal Wines Cecil John Reserve Shiraz 2012
De Trafford Wines Blueprint Syrah 2012
Fable Mountain Vineyards Syrah 2012
Porseleinberg Porseleinberg 2012

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Jean Smit, Winemaker at Boekenhoutskloof

Boekenhoutskloof – Producer of Sensational Premium Wines as well as Good Value Table Wines in Franschhoek

Red Blends

Delaire Graff Estate Botmaskop 2012
Ernie Els Wines CWG Auction Reserve 2012
Hartenberg Estate The Mackenzie 2011
Thelema Mountain Vineyards Rabelais 2010
Vilafonté Series C 2011


DeMorgenzon Reserve Chardonnay 2013
Iona Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
Richard Kershaw Wines Elgin Chardonnay 2013
Sterhuis Barrel Selection Chardonnay 2012

Chenin Blanc

Alheit Vineyards Magnetic North Mountain Makstok 2013
Fram Wines Chenin Blanc 2013
Kaapzicht Wine Estate The 1947 Chenin Blanc 2013

Grenache Blanc

The Foundry Grenache Blanc 2013

Sauvignon Blanc

Buitenverwachting Husseys Vlei Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Diners Club Bartho Eksteen Academy CWG Auction Reserve Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Reyneke Wines Reserve White 2013


Vergelegen Wines Reserve Semillon 2013

White Blends

Constantia Uitsig Constantia White 2013
David & Nadia Sadie Aristargos 2013
DeMorgenzon Maestro White 2013
Flagstone Winery Treaty Tree Reserve White Blend 2013
Miles Mossop Wines Saskia 2012
Oak Valley Wines Mountain Reserve White Blend 2010
Sadie Family Wines Palladius 2012
Sadie Family Wines Skerpioen 2013

Picture: Constantia Uitsig Vineyard

A Day in Cape Town's Wine Cellars and Vineyards - Constantia Valley in South Africa 

Méthode Cap Classique

Graham Beck Wines Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009

Dessert Wine, Unfortified

Delheim Wines Edelspatz Noble Late Harvest 2013
Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Straw Wine 2013

Dessert Wine, Fortified

Nuy Wine Cellar White Muscadel 2013


Boplaas Family Vineyards Cape Tawny Vintners Reserve NV
De Krans Cape Vintage Reserve 2012


KWV 12 Year Old Barrel Select Brandy

schiller-wine: Related Postings

In the Plane: Wine on South African Airways from Johannesburg to Livingstone in Zambia (Victoria Falls)

New World Wine Producer South Africa

Boekenhoutskloof – Producer of Sensational Premium Wines as well as Good Value Table Wines in Franschhoek

Lunch with Raphael Dornier in Stellenbosch

Burgundy Wines in South Africa: Hamilton Russell Vineyards

Devon Rocks - A Boutique Producer of Pinotage in South Africa

Wining, Dining and Relaxing with the Chocolate/Coffee Pinotage at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate in Wellington, South Africa

In the Glass: A Rust en Vrede 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon With South African Oysters in Stellenbosch

Marianne Wine Estate: South African Wine with a French Soul

Meeting Ntsiki Biyela at Stellekaya in Stellenbosch – South Africa’s Only Female and Black Winemaker with International Recognition

Wine, Art and Food: Donald Hess’ Glen Carlou Estate in South Africa

Riesling in South Africa  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wine Tasting Luncheon at 1 Star Michelin Röttele's Restaurant im Schloss Neuweier in Baden, with Winemaker Robert Schätzle and his Weingut Schloss Neuweier Wines – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Chef Armin Röttele, Owner of  Röttele's Restaurant im Schloss Neuweier in Baden

The first stop of the German South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014), which took place from September 14 – 20, was at Schloss Neuweier in the small village of Neuweier in Baden, close to the spa-town Baden Baden. We had an exciting wine tasting luncheon at the 1-star Michelin restaurant of Chef Armin Röttele, with the owner and winemaker of Weingut Schloss Neuweier, Robert Schätzle. Chef Armin Röttele prepared an amazing “menu di passion”. His wife Sabine Röttele was our host. And Robert Schätzle paired the menu with his top wines and commented on them.

Picture: Being Received by Sabine Röttele

The luncheon was preceeded by a vineyard and cellar tour by Robert Schätzle, on which I have already reported: In the Vineyard and the Wine Cellar (and Lunch) with Robert Schätzle, Owner and Winemaker, Weingut Schloss Neuweier in Baden – Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

See also:
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux
Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Schloss Neuweier

(1) Röttele's Restaurant and Weingut Schloss Neuweier are both part of the wonderfully restored, historic castle Schloss Neuweier, where wine has been made for centuries.

Picture: Arriving at Weingut Schloss Neuweier

(2) The castle belongs to the few historic buildings from the 12th century that still exist.

(3) Die Ritter von Bach were the first who started planting vines and producing wine. All subsequent owners showed interested in winemaking.

(4) Its current shape took the castle, when it was owned by Philipp Kämmerer von Worms, called von Dalberg. During 1548 to 1549, this gentleman created the castle as you can see it today. To remind everyone of his creation he put in the entry portal: Zeyt bryngt Rosen – Time brings Roses.

(5) In 1615, the castle was passed onto the second daughter of Philipp von Dalberg, whose husband was Wolf von Eltz and Knebel von Katzenellenbogen. Katzenellenbogen was a high ranking knight who fought under the rule of the Archbishop of Mainz. He also was an important person in terms of winemaking at Weingut Schloss Neuweier. He brought his knowledge from the Franken area, the Bocksbeutel bottles and the Niersteiner and the Laubenheimer grape varities, which replaced the traditional Elblinger and Ortlieber.

(6) During the 19th century the castle changed its owners quiet frequently. From 1869, the Rößler family from Baden-Baden became the owner of the castle. The Rößler family is responsible for the Mauerberg vineyard gaining international recognition.

(7) Until recently, the driving force behind Schloss Neuweier, including Weingut Schloss Neuweier, was Gisela Joos. She and her husband, a well-known architect from Frankfurt am Main, took over the castle, including the winery, in 1992 and invested around Euro 50 million in the castle, including the winery. What you see today is essentially due to their efforts and money. In 1999, Weingut Neuweier was admitted to the prestigious VDP association, when Gisela Joos was in charge.

(8) Today, the “Schlossherr” (owner) of Schloss Neuweier and the winemaker at Weingut Schloss Neuweier is Robert Schaetzle. His family acquired the estate in 2012. The senior management of the winery of course changed with Robert taking over. The already high quality level of the wines was definitely maintained if not increased by Robert Schaetzle. The Joos family is still living in the castle, but on a lease basis.

Pictures: Schloss Neuweier

Röttele’s Restaurant and Residence at Schloss Neuweier

During the period when the Rössler family owned Schloss Neuweier, a “Besenwirtschaft” (basic wine tavern, where the winemaker sells his own wine) was opened at Schloss Neuweier. Over time, that basic tavern developed into a fine dining restaurant.

Armin and Sabine Röttele took over in 2005. A year later, Armin was awarded a Michelin star. Today, Röttele’s Restaurant at Schloss Neuweier is one of the best restaurants in Germany.

Sue Style: Expect deliciously pronounced southern accents (the chef spent years in Switzerland’s Tessin before returning here to his roots), intense flavors and colors, silken home-made soups and pastas, toothsome vegetables, locally raised meat and game.

Pictures: Lunch at Röttele's Restaurant with Robert Schätzle

Robert Schaetzle: We were very lucky that in the year 2005 the family Röttele took on the restaurant on the ground floor of the castle. Mr. Röttele is a very inspiring and inventive Chef whose creations leaves your mouth watering. Mr. Röttele’s talent was internationally recognized so it was not surprise that he gained 1 Star from the Michelin in 2006.

Armin Röttele: Il menu di passione

Chef Armin Röttele suggested an amazing "Il menu di passione", complemented with Weingut Schloss Neuweier wines. Robert Schätzle supplemented these wines with another half a dozen Weingut Schloss Neuweier wines, some of which where not yet bottled (and thus did not have a proper label).

2008 Schloss Neuweier Riesling Sekt brut


Small appetizer

2013 Schloss Neuweier Riesling trocken

Pumpkin cream soup with melted foie gras and Amaretto foam

2012 Schloss Neuweier Neuweierer Riesling Alte Reben trocken
2013 Schloss Neuweier Schlossberg Erste Lage Riesling trocken
2012 Schloss Neuweier Schlossberg Erste Lage Riesling trocken

Lukewarm marinated codfish with Gremolata, orange sauce and Tagliolini

2012 Schloss Neuweier Goldenes Loch Riesling trocken GG
2012 Schloss Neuweier Mauerberg Riesling trocken Erste Lage 
2013 Schloss Neuweier Mauerberg Riesling trocken Erste Lage

Roasted rack of venison with walnut crust on parsley-curd “Knöpfle” with Savoy cabbage and lingonberries

2009 Schloss Neuweier Heiligenstein Spätburgunder Spätlese trocken
2012 Schloss Neuweier Heiligenstein Spätburgunder trocken Erste Lage
2013 Schloss Neuweier Heiligenstein Spätburgunder trocken Erste Lage

Duo of plum with cinnamon in a sorbet and Mille Foglie with Marsala-zabaglione

2012 Schloss Neuweier Grand Cuvee Riesling + Gewürztraminer Auslese 

Sweet autumn surprise


Thank you Sabine, Armin and Robert for the great time we had at Schloss Neuweier.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013 

Weingut Schloss Neuweier – Robert Schaetzle, Baden, Germany

Winemaker Dinner with John Kolasa (Château Canon und Château Rauzan Ségla) and Wine Journalist Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Le Français in Frankfurt, Germany

Lunch at Château Le Bon Pasteur with Winemaker/Owner Dany Rolland, Pomerol, France

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2014

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Stephanie Weegmüller at Weingut Weegmüller during the visit of the Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014), see: Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

The results of the Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2014 - Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings - were announced.

Picture: Feinschmecker Riesling Cup

The Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2014 went to a producer in the Pfalz: Weingut Weegmüller in Heustadt-Haardt for: 2013 Weingut Weegmüller, Der Mineralische, Riesling Kabinett trocken.

Already 15 years ago, Weingut Weegmüller won the Feinschmecker Riesling Cup (for its 1998 Weingut Weegmüller, Haardter Herrenletten, Riesling Spätlese trocken).

Picture: Stephanie Weegmüller and Gabriele Weegmüller receiving the Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014 Group  at Weingut Weegmueller

Picture: Stephanie Weegmüller, Christian G.E. Schiller, Annette Schiller and Gabriele Weegmüller at Weingut Weegmüller, Pfalz, Germany, during the German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Weingut Weegmüller is owned and run by two charming and entertaining sisters, Stefanie and Gabriele Weegmüller. The Weegmüller sisters and their winery are well established in the German wine scene; Gault Millau gives them 3 (out of 5) grapes. On both the Germany Wine Tour by ombiasy (2013) and the Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014), we stopped at Weingut Weegmüller and had a wonderful tasting with Steffi and Gabi.

For more on Weingut Weegmüller, see:
The World Meets at Weingut Weegmueller, Pfalz, Germany

Runner-up was Weingut Fritz Haag from the Mosel with: 2013 Weingut Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling GG.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and German Winemaker Oliver Haag, Weingut Fritz Haag, in Seattle

Weingut Fritz Haag, currently owned and run by Oliver Haag, is a world class producer from the Mosel, with 5 (out of 5) grapes in the Gault Millau. Interestingly, Weingut Fritz Haag is known for its fruity-sweet and noble-sweet, low alcohol wines. But Oliver also knows who to make ultra-premium dry Riesling.

For more on Weingut Fritz Haag, see:
The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA 

The third place also went to the Mosel: Weingut Carl Loewen with its 2013 Weingut Carl Loewen,
Thörnicher Ritsch Riesling trocken

For previous years, see on schiller-wine:
Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2013
Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2012
Germany’s Best Dry Rieslings - Feinschmecker Riesling Cup 2011
The 11 Top German Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker German Riesling Cup 2010 (Vintage 2009)
The 13 Top German Dry Rieslings – Feinschmecker German Riesling Cup 2009 (Vintage 2008)
Riesling Cup 2009 - Germany's Top Dry 2007 Rieslings

Riesling in the World

There are about 47000 hectares planted with Riesling worldwide. Germany – with 22500 hectares – accounts for about half of the total. The second and third largest Riesling producer are the US (mainly Washington State and Finger Lakes Region) with 4800 hectares and Australia with 4100 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Alsace, Ukraine and Austria follow with 3500 hectares, 2700 hectares and 1900 hectares, respectively.

Overall, Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine. In terms of quality wines, Riesling is usually included in the top three white wine varieties, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is highly terroir-expressive, meaning that the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine’s place of origin.

The Top 16 Wines

Platz 1
Weinname: 2013 Der Mineralische Riesling Kabinett trocken
Weingut: Weegmüller
Weinregion: Pfalz
Platz 2
Weinname: 2013 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Großes Gewächs
Weingut: Fritz Haag
Weinregion: Mosel
Platz 3
Weinname: 2013 Thörnicher Ritsch Riesling trocken
Weingut: Carl Loewen
Weinregion: Mosel
Platz 4
Weinname: 2013 Hörrweiler Gewürzgärtchen Riesling Spätlese trocken
Weingut: Huff-Doll
Weinregion: Rheinhessen
Platz 5
Weinname: 2013 Oberweseler Oelsberg Riesling Spätlese trocken Alte Rebe
Weingut: Dr. Randolf Kauer
Weinregion: Mittelrhein
Platz 6
Weinname: 2013 Lorcher Schloßberg Riesling Spätlese trocken
Weingut: Paul Laquai
Weinregion: Rheingau
Platz 7
Weinname: 2013 Graacher Ortsriesling trocken
Weingut: Dr. Loosen
Weinregion: Mosel
Platz 8
Weinname: 2013 Escherndorfer Lump Riesling Großes Gewächs
Weingut: Horst Sauer
Weinregion: Franken
Platz 9
Weinname: 2013 Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Großes Gewächs
Weingut: Grans-Fassian
Weinregion: Mosel
Platz 10
Weinname: 2013 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs
Weingut: Hermann Dönnhoff
Weinregion: Nahe
Platz 11
Weinname: 2013 Bopparder Hamm Mandelstein Riesling Auslese trocken
Weingut: August & Thomas Perll
Weinregion: Mittelrhein
Platz 12
Weinname: 2013 Kiedricher Turmberg Riesling trocken
Weingut: Robert Weil
Weinregion: Rheingau
Platz 13
Weinname: 2013 Maximin Grünhaus Abtsberg Riesling trocken
Weingut: Maximin Grünhaus – Schlosskellerei C. v. Schubert

Weinregion: Mosel/Ruwer
Platz 14
Weinname: 2013 Niederberg-Helden Riesling trocken
Weingut: Schloss Lieser
Weinregion: Mosel
Platz 15
Weinname: 2013 Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs
Weingut: Schäfer-Fröhlich
Weinregion: Nahe
Platz 16
Weinname: 2013 Gross-Winternheim Bockstein Riesling trocken
Weingut: Bioweingut Elke und Eckhard Weitzel
Weinregion: Rheinhessen

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

German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

Picture: Polenta at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

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 is the third of a series of postings (see below) emanating from my visit of Ticino. It is the first posting that does not focus on wine, but on food – polenta.

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 at Grotto Bundi, Mendrisio, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Cantina Kopp von der Crone Visini, with Anna Barbara von der Crone and Paolo Visini, Switzerland
Visiting and Tasting the Wines of Tamborini Carlo SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, 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.

Picture: Map of Switzerland

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.

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 Wine Tours, and Christian Schiller in Ticino, Switzerland

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.

Guido Brivio, Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA, and Polenta Dinner at Grotto Bundi

In an interview, winemaker Guido Brivio, Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA, was asked: What traditional dishes would you recommend to drink with your wines? His answer: Polenta and risotto are traditional dishes. We have a north Italian culture here. What restaurants do you recommend in the region? If you want rustic food then the tavern, Grotto Bundi (grottobundi.com), located on a road full of ancient wine cellars, is a must. Grotto serves the best polenta in the world, in my opinion.

In fact, after the tasting with Guido Brivio, see here: Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland, we were treated to a fabulous Polenta Dinner at Grotto Bundi.

Picture: Guido Brivio and Christian G.E. Schiller

Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA are operating as a pure negociants-type winery under the same roof and management in Mendrisio. Together, they buy fruit from 400 farmers operating on 100 ha of land in the region and produce 100.000 cases.

See also:
Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland
Exploring the Wines of Ticino in Ticino, the Italian Speaking Part of Switzerland


thegreedyantgourmet.com: The word “polenta” has Hebrew, Greek and Latin (pulmentum) origins. Since the most ancient times, people have eaten some form of ground grain cereal (originally made from wheat, barley, millet, spelt (farro) or buckwheat), cooked in water or milk. In some areas of Italy polenta was prepared using course chestnut flour or flours made from dried legumes, such as fava beans, chickpeas, or cicerchia - a cereal similar to chickpeas but with a sweeter, earthier flavor still common in central and southern Italy. These different types of polenta, as alternatives to bread and pasta, have been basic to the diet of rural populations for centuries.

Pictures: Grotto Bundi

Beginning in the late 16th century - after the introduction of corn in Europe from the Americas (where it was known in Peru as “mahyz”) - polenta made from corn became the main source of nourishment for farm families in northeastern Italy. The importance of polenta in the everyday diet of northern Italians - especially in Veneto and Lombardy, where the climate and soil are well suited for the cultivation of corn cannot be overstated; historically, polenta has been as essential to the diet of northern Italians as the potato has been for the Irish and Germans. To this day, polenta is mainly associated with northern Italy and is a beloved element of the now celebrated “cucina povera” - meaning the “humble food” of Italian cuisine.

Pictures: Grotto Bundi - Sandrine e Stefano Romelli, Proprietari e Gerenti

For many northern Italians - particularly those who immigrated to South and North America - polenta evokes memories of family, warmth and winters around the fireplace when polenta was cooked in the paiolo - a copper pot used exclusively for the making of polenta.

Pictures: Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland

Venetians in general, but also gourmands and people that love good regional food, still appreciate this wonderful way to accompany an infinite number of regional recipes - from Fegato alla veneziana (a delicious recipe based on veal liver and onions) to Baccalà alla vicentina (a unique stockfish recipe) to the various pasticci (a culinary term meaning a “delicious mess”).

Pictures: Starters

Grotto Bundi’s Polenta Recipe

Here is a polenta recipe that you can find on the web site of Grotto Bundi.

240 g di farina ogni litro d'acqua (per una polenta non troppo spessa)
240 g. of flour per each water liter (for a not too thick polenta)
200 g. of flour per water liter (for a very smooth polenta).
Salt as for pasta.
½ liter of water for one person.

Pictures: Polenta at Grotto Bundi

Procedure: Put a pot with a thick bottom and a lid on the burner. Salt water, when it starts boiling take it away from fire and pour flour using the whisk , paying attention not to form lumps. Put on the large burner until polenta starts boiling again.

Picture: Dessert

When boil lessens and the first “vapor volcanoes” appear cover with lid and finish cooking with low temperature for at least 45 - 60 minutes. You can cook it longer if you want: the longer it cooks the more it’s good and digestible. If polenta remains too firm add a little boiling water.

Pictures: Grappa Nostrana

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