Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Iconic Swiss Varietals tasting: Leyvraz St-Saphorin Grand Cru Les Blassinges 2012

Paolo Basso has consistently been one of the world's best sommeliers and has two World's Best Sommelier awards (2010 and 2013) as official recognition of that standing. I had never had the opportunity to meet him, or attend one of his tastings, so I jumped at the opportunity to register for a tasting titled Iconic Swiss Varietals that he would be hosting at the DWWC 2014 Conference in Montreux, Switzerland.

The tasting was scheduled for the final day and would be the last official event before the Grand Finale Dinner at the Montreux Casino. The high level of interest and participation in the Grand Tasting (hosted by Jancis Robinson and Dr. José Vouillamoz) and the subsequent Rare Swiss Varietals tasting (hosted by Dr. Vouillamoz) had pushed the Paolo Basso tasting way behind schedule and placed him in the position of being between attendees and their drinks. But when I got into the room, there he was sitting unfazed and calmly waiting for everyone to put in their appearance so he could get started. And that calmness and cool efficiency pervaded the entire tasting. It was truly a wonder to behold. One of the highlights of the conference for me.

Due to my lack of familiarity with the wines, producers, and regions from which the grapes are drawn, rather than provide the tasting notes en masse, I will cover each of the wines in a separate post and then provide the tasting notes at the conclusion of that treatment. The full complement of the wines tasted is shown in the picture below.

The first wine tasted was the Pierre-Luc Leyvraz St.-Saphorin Grand Cru Les Blassinges 2012, a white wine made from Chasselas grapes grown in the Blassinges plot of AOC Lavaux in the Vaud canton of Switzerland.

First the AOC. AOC Lavaux is an 800-ha vineyard stretching from Montreux to Lausanne -- the largest contiguous vineyard plot in Switzerland -- whose vertiginous vineyard terraces have merited inclusion (2007) on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

St-Saphorin is a section within the larger vineyard with calcareous loamy soil that rests on a base of chalky rock comprised of pebbles joined by sandstone cement. Pierre-Luc farms 3.5 ha of vines in St.-Saphorin, 2.8 ha of which is planted to Chasselas. The 3.5 ha is distributed between 10 non-contiguous plots, one of which is Les Blassanges.

Chasselas is the most important, and most widely planted, variety in Switzerland where it yields a light-bodied wine with good acidity and aging potential. The wine tasted was a blend of several Les Blassinges parcels.

Lees and licorice on the nose. Paolo thought that this was a typical expression of the grape and wine. A sense of RS. Weighty with slight salinity. Supple wine. Paolo though that the faint effervescence enhanced the acidity. Low-to-medium body. Round with licorice and citrus on palate. A pleasant wine with a medium to long finish.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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