Background and philosophy
Uncompromising quality !
All of our wines are made from grapes grown organically in the soils best suited to each variety, and our entire harvest is processed and bottled on the estate.
Ever since its inception in 1982 the Domaine des Balisiers has been committed to organic wine-making. Since 2005 its vineyards have been cultivated in accordance with biodynamic principles. To this day it remains Switzerland’s largest producer of organic wines.
From the very outset most of the estate’s vineyards were re-planted with improved varieties grafted onto low-yield root-stock. Over 10 hectares of the original Chasselas were thus re-planted with higher-quality varieties. Aligoté now thrives at Peney, as does Chardonnay at Chouilly and on the Peissy plateau, along with Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. While some varieties require deep soils, others do better in stratified sediment.
In 2011, Gérard Pillon, one of the two co-founders of the estate, stepped down in favour of his son, Christophe, who went on to buy out his father’s partner, Jean-Daniel Schlaepfer, in order to pursue his own visionary plans. An energetic entrepreneur and a life-loving epicurean dedicated to sustainable development, Christophe has maintained and strengthened the estate’s commitment to organic and biodynamic methods of cultivation, modernizing its operations in harmony with the wine-making tradition he embodies. In recognition of his work, the Domaine des Balisiers was awarded Demeter certification in 2015 – Switzerland’s ultimate biodynamic distinction.
Christophe Pillon’s pioneering estate now comprises some 30 hectares of vineyards equipped with Y-shaped trellises known as “open lyres”. This original device doubles the vines’ exposure to sunlight, thereby enhancing their growth and the development of flavors in their grapes.
A traditional yet innovative approach to wine-making.
Our harvest generally begins in the last third of September. To optimize maturity, the harvest of each vineyard is timed in the light of a careful analysis of the grapes’ sugar content and malic and tartric acidity.
Our grapes are entirely harvested by hand. No mechanical harvester has ever been used on the estate. Inside our winery, we follow several traditional methods in our wine-making process. For our whites, the grapes are pressed immediately in whole bunches to prevent oxidization, while our red grapes are kept in stainless steel tanks between one and three weeks, depending on the variety, before they are pressed.
True to its innovative spirit, the Domaine des Balisiers experimentally tried making some of its wines in “amphora”, as the ancient Romans used to do prior to their adoption of the Gallic barrel. Based on egg-shaped prototypes made of a natural, clay-like cement, the estate has been maturing many of its wines in such containers since 2004. Its main cellar currently houses dozens of these amphora and oak barrels: the combination of these two ancient methods, both traditional and innovative, ensures that the estate’s best wines deliver the fullest possible expression of their unique character.
Our wines are matured on fine lees for between 18 and 24 months in a specially excavated cellar. While Dame Noire is matured in oak barrels for 12 months, our Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Comte de Peney, Lune Rousse and Sauvignon Blanc are matured in clay amphora for 12 to 18 months.
Our entire harvest is organic and bottled on the estate. Our extensive range of organic wines – comprising reds, whites and rosé – is sure to give satisfaction even to the most discriminating oenophiles. For your ultimate enjoyment, the estate has also built up a unique collection of over 20 vintages of Comte de Peney (1989-2015), our exclusive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc
An experimental estate.
From its very inception, the Domaine des Balisiers has been committed to organic viniculture. Having pioneered this approach, it became Switzerland’s leading producer of organic wines. In 1984, it was also the first Swiss estate to introduce lyre-shaped trellising of its vines, together with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Furthermore, the Domaine des Balisiers is one of only a handful of Swiss estates to have completely discontinued the use of artificial enzymes and yeasts since 2002. All of our fermentation processes are activated by indigenous yeasts.
Deliberately low yields.
Vineyard density is limited to 3,300-4,000 vines per hectare in order to reduce yields and thereby achieve higher concentration of the grape juice. The yield of each vine is also restricted every year by means of the so-called green harvest we carry out in July. Any bunches of grapes in excess of the vine’s optimal yield are thus removed prematurely by hand.