Gamay was originally grown in France’s Touraine region, in parts of the Loire valley and, most famously, in Beaujolais. However, the soils of the Geneva countryside now also yield a particularly fruity Gamay. Some Geneva vineyards, such as those around Peney and Peissy, produce a Gamay that can be vinified to keep for five years or longer. Like all the other reds from the Domaine des Balisiers, our varietal Gamay is matured for a year at the winery before it goes on the market. Gamay is the leading red varietal produced by Geneva winemakers. It is primarily a mealtime wine to accompany cold-cuts, white meats and poultry. Unlike most reds, it can be served slightly chilled. It is a ruby-coloured wine with a distinctive fruitiness, typically featuring notes of raspberry and blackberry.
Pinot Noir is the variety used to make all of Burgundy’s great red wines. Along with Cabernet and Syrah, it is considered to be one of the best three red varieties in the world. It is an extremely fine and racy varietal which can titer up to 13 per cent alcohol. It is best served at cellar temperature, between 16° and 18°. Its red colour is nuanced with violet. It can keep for four to ten years depending on the vintage. It makes a harmonious match for white meat, poultry and some white sea-fish (e.g. dorade or Mediterranean seabass). Its subtle flavour is typically reminiscent of forest berries and wild cherry.
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.
Having identified the outstanding potential of a 0.7 hectare vineyard planted with Pinot Noir in Peissy, we undertook to enhance the quality of its produce further by limiting its yield (8-10 bunches of grapes per vine), delaying the harvest, and vinifying it separately. Ilôt Noir spends three weeks in fermentation tanks in order to maximize its concentration by enhancing its tannins, substance and colouring. It is then matured for a year in large oaken barrels (“foudres”) for micro-oxygenation and aromatic subtlety, and subjected to minimal filtration. With its garnet-red colour, this Pinot Noir varietal features a nose of remarkable freshness, fragrant with raspberry. On tasting, its flavours strike a harmonious balance between subtlety and the smoothness of silky tannins. It holds the promise of great potential for ageing.
Gamaret is an original Swiss grape variety, a hybrid that was first bred towards the end of the 20th century by Switzerland’s Federal plant breeding/viticultural centre at Changins. It was initially used only in blends with Pinot Noir and Gamay. Over the past decade or so, however, it has gained ground across the Geneva vineyards in its own right. Our Lune Rousse is 100% Gamaret. It is the produce of some six acres planted with this variety near the Geneva suburb of Plan-les-Ouates. It is matured in our winery’s clay amphora for 15 months. Its characteristically dark red colour plays a prelude to its strong tannic expressiveness and low acidity. Lune Rousse makes a marvellous companion for various meat and spicy dishes (tartare, curries, Thai cuisine, venison stew). One taster, Oenologist Raul Cruchon in Echichens, described it as “The most wonderful Gamaret I have ever tasted!” Another, Sommelier Raymond Paccot of Féchy, exclaimed: “What a body! Such intensity and promise!” A third, the wine reviewer for the French daily Le Monde, commented: “This is an unusual wine ... still imbued with the subtlety of its primeval substance, tannins just begging to turn smooth, a dry essence with incredibly potent aromatic potential ... Amazingly successful, a great wine for ageing.”
Comte de Peney
Our Comte de Peney is the result of over a decade of experimental research to adapt Cabernet varieties from Bordeaux to the climate and soils of the Geneva area. It is a blend of two-thirds Cabernet Sauvignon and one-third Cabernet Franc, produced from extremely low yields (30 hectolitres per hectare). Great vintages of Comte de Peney can keep for 20 years or longer. Our Balisier Collection offers wine-lovers the opportunity to purchase most vintages back to 1989 in their original cases. Comte de Peney is matured for 18-24 months in clay amphora. It features an incomparably broad range of flavours and rich complexity. The blend has an alcohol titre of 13° at least. Its deep red, purply colour is intensely expressive: a brilliant disk with shimmering hues of ruby. The nose is a delicate balance of immature leather and berries steeped in spirit. On tasting, the first impression is clean, again with dominant flavours of red berries, particularly kirsch-steeped cherries. The taste then narrows down, still with its powerful tannins, but combining notes of tobacco and gentle spiciness. Comte de Peney is a wine for special occasions, an ideal match for the most refined cuisine.