In 2004, the Domaine des Balisiers decided to plant a new white grape variety experimentally. After numerous tastings and a thorough investigation of the characteristics of our soils, we decided to try the traditional variety of the Loire valley, namely, Chenin. This was to be the first such experiment in Switzerland. In 2004-05, we thus planted three hectares of Chenin Blanc from the massale selection of the Gibault nursery at Jugné sur Loire, which we trained and pruned in the open lyre shape. Our Chenin Blanc is matured for 12 months in clay amphora without undergoing malolactic fermentation in order to preserve the best of its freshness. This successful experiment has enabled us to produce two radically different white varietals. The first is dry and mineral, while the second, made from late-picked grapes, is our only sweet white wine.
Dame Noire is an original red blend developed in our winery at the Domaine des Balisiers. Virtually all Swiss winemakers stopped maturing their wines in vats during the Second World War because oak could no longer be imported and coopers simply went out of business for want of raw material. In 1985, the Domaine des Balisiers was one of the first wine-making estates to resurrect this traditional method of vinification when it started to produce Dame Noire. The actual proportions of the blend vary with the characteristics of each vintage, but the varieties are consistently Gamay, Pinot Noir and Gamaret. Its deep, dark-red colour is simply superb. Its delicate nose is a perfect balance of fruitiness and spicy lift. On tasting, it is generously full-bodied but entirely without heaviness, combining a soft flavour of black-current with empyreumatic notes. The middle is a full-bodied concentration of rounded fruitiness gently blending with subtle oakiness all the way to the finale. Matured for a full year in oak vats, our Dame Noire is indeed a wine for keeping that develops a oaky note with vanilla-like aromas. It should ideally be allowed five to ten years in a good wine cellar before drinking. It is a mealtime wine that goes particularly well with red meat, BBQs and venison.
The “king of Burgundy” is a variety considered to produce some of the world’s finest wines. At the Domaine des Balisiers, Chardonnay undergoes its fermentations in clay amphora for 12 months. Maturing the wine in amphora ensures slow oxygenation, which optimizes the expressiveness of its varietal character. Together with Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay is one of our richest and most elaborate white wines. Vineyard yields are kept very low. Our Chardonnay’s exuberant nose is all about vineyard blood-peach, apricot and golden apple. From initial freshness, its taste develops into silkiness with an elegant full-bodied texture and buttery notes of yellow flowers. The long finale brings up a mineral touch. It will happily accompany a dish of sauted forest mushrooms, salmon carpaccio, smoked salmon or any lake fish. It also makes an ideal aperitif wine.