Domaine de Montmollin, Pinot Noir, Eleve en Barrique, AOC Neuchatel, Auvernier, Neuchatel, Switzerland, 2011
From the 1980s the Swiss regulatory equivalent of AOC was OIC, which guaranteed provenance and traceability of a wine, with ideas of geographical limit, yields and quality control. Regulatory controls on wine imports were steadily lifted from the 1990s, so domestic product had to compete and find external customers. Visible regulation had to support this, as did improved wine quality, and from 2009 they are slowly falling into line with the EU (1), including geographically limited grape source, and concepts of premier cru and grand cru. Overall regulation of the wine industry falls to the Federal Office for Agriculture (OFAG), which sets eg maximum yield in kg/sq.m., which is about 12 tonnes/hectare (GC Chablis is about 8 tonnes/hectare), but pretty much otherwise each canton sets its own regulations for varieties, yields and so on .
Neuchatel canton production is dominated by chasselas (aka fendant) and pinot noir (aka blauburgunder or clevener) for still red and a rose Oeil de Perdrix. There is a little sparkling too.
Soils are limestone based, with variation in clay and stone content. The climate is moderated by Lake Neuchatel, cooling in summer and acting as a storage heater in winter.
This wine: varietal pinot noir, natural cork closure with evidence of wine creep half way up the cork – but no sign of oxidation, 13.5%, Alpine Wines, £31.80 (2016)
Consumer tasting note: round, rich ripe mostly black fruits with some red berries and liquorice, a little toast and spice from time in oak, alcohol slightly high, still, decent concentration, better complexity, and length, with some tertiary interest.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, pale intensity ruby, showing tears.
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of ripe black cherry, black-currant boiled sweets, toast, spicy red plum, ripe red cherry, liquorice, peony, spice, slightly high-toned stewed red fruits, a little red fruit jam.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, medium ripe well-integrated tannins, medium (+) alcohol and a medium body, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of ripe black berry, spicy ripe red cherry, toast and spice, and a woody undertone. A medium (+) length with a clean red and black berried lightly grippy finish.
Quality: a good quality wine, nicely balanced acidity and tannins with flavour intensity, but alcohol a little high and warming for harmony, and oak not quite fully integrated, with toast a little dominant on the nose. Showing some complexity from time in oak and bottle ageing, with a rich range of aroma, less so on the palate, but still rich and ripe, with some tertiary development notes of stewed berries, with better than modest concentration and length.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: drink now, not suitable for further ageing – will hold for 2 years or so, but not improve.
- New Vaud AOC wine rules spark battle for top slots. Wallace, E. June 2009. [Online]. Accessed 22/05/16.
- The Oxford Companion to Wine. Robinson, J., Harding, J. 2015. Oxford University Press.
- The Swiss Wine Industry. Mermier, P. 2002. Journal of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, Vol.13, No.3, pp.145-149, 2002. [Online]. Accessed 22/05/16.
- Topographic map of Switzerland. [Online]. Accessed 22/05/16.
- Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture – Wine Regulations. [Online]. Accessed 25/05/16.