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Switzerland

Between rivers, lakes, mountains, the plateau and the Jura, with a breakaway to the south, the Swiss vineyards are distinguished as much by the beauty of their viticultural landscapes as by the diversity of the wines produced there. Although Switzerland sometimes prides itself on cultivating a large number of grape varieties (75 are listed by the FSO, but nearly 240 different varieties are grown), this varietal abundance raises questions rather than admiration. It is as if, beyond the geological and climatic diversity of the different wine-producing regions, it reflected the quest for identity of a vineyard that has been reduced to the rank of a lilliputian at the global level: with a surface area of approximately 15,000 ha, Swiss winegrowing represents, for example, only 1.6% of the surface area of the French vineyard. However, it should be noted that the four main grape varieties (pinot noir, chasselas, gamay and merlot) represent more than 70% of the grape varieties cultivated. This wide range of grape varieties is perhaps a godsend. Many wineries have been transformed into wine laboratories and pride themselves on offering an almost infinite range of wines. No doubt with the hidden (and now outdated) desire to keep their market captive and to dissuade wine lovers from looking elsewhere? But this short-term vision is an illusion. Even if one can concede a certain technical virtuosity, this multiplication of vintages within the same estate is a major concession to the "varietal everything".

But the potential of great wines is there: a certain number of Swiss wines have their place in the concert of great international wines. By their originality and by their ability to express the genius of their place. These vintages will always be in the minority, but - and this is reassuring for the future of wine in Switzerland - their aura is now recognised by many tasters around the world.

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