The wait for WOWExpo – Les Roches’ annual celebration of Swiss winemaking – is almost over. But there are still a few days left to book your tickets for this unique, student-led event, which takes place at Bluche campus on Saturday 13th April.
To whet your appetite, we spoke to some of the top Swiss winemakers who will be exhibiting this year. They shared their passions and philosophies, while also offering a sneak preview of some of the delicious wines they’ll be giving WOWExpo visitors a chance to taste.
Caves du Paradis – Olivier Roten
“As the third generation member of a winemaking family from Valais, it is my goal to bring the passion of our great terroir. It’s not often that the people of this region get the chance to be part of Les Roches’ activities, so I see WOWExpo as a great opportunity as well as a duty to be part of. It was Goethe who said, “Life’s too short to drink bad wine”. Our key to quality is to work with passionate people who labor from grape to glass and give their hearts to achieve the best.
“We’ll be bringing our LARIX 2017, a well-kept secret that keeps alive the Valais tradition of aging in larch-tree barrels. Plus we’ll have our little Bourgogne-style Pinot Noir, SYMPHONIE 2016. And there will be a few surprises too!”
Château Le Rosey – Davesne Florian
“This is our first WOWExpo and we are looking forward to bringing wines that represent the beauty of the Vaud canton, and especially the Chasselas grape variety, the reputation of which is beginning to spread across Swiss borders. We believe it’s important for us to be interested in others, in particular the hospitality leaders of the future, so we can be reactive to their future ideas.
“We only produce wine from certified organic grape varieties. Our wines’ distinctive characteristics represent the pride of our winemakers and are very much in our image, with a long history, a soul, as well as great precision, respect and elegance.”
Domaine Jean-René Germanier – Gilles Besse
“We’ve been at every WOWExpo so far – it’s a good opportunity to make our ‘local’ wines more famous. I am the fourth generation working in this family winery, which focuses on the traditional grape varieties of the Valais, such as Amigne and Humagne. Our terroir is unique and special, with plenty of sunshine and dry air, but with big swings in temperature. We can also plant vines anywhere between 500 meters and 1,000 meters above sea level, which gives us fantastic flexibility.
“It’s great to come and talk to the students of Les Roches. These are the younger generation who in future will be buying wines for their hotels and restaurants. We already export more of our wine than the Swiss average, so for me it is important to show that Switzerland is a real wine country whose products deserve to be on the lists of good restaurants across the world.”
Cru de l’Hôpital – Léo Cousin
“This is our first WOWExpo and we are looking forward to flying the flag for Switzerland’s smallest wine-making region, Vully. As a 100% organic and biodynamic winery, we want to respect our soil and all the living elements that make up our wines. Nature has so much energy to take advantage of, so it makes sense for us to listen to, and work with, these elements.
“We’ll be bringing two red and two white wines to WOWExpo. Alloy takes its name from a former name of the Chasselas grape. We make it ‘old school’, with skin maceration and no added sulphites. Our other white wine, Traminer, offers a ‘dry’ take on the aromatic Alsatian Gewürztraminer wines. For our reds, we’ve included the Pinot Noir de Mur, which was rated “World Class” by critics, alongside the aromatic Réserve des Bourgeois.”
Le Petit Château, Simonet Père & Fils – Fabrice Simonet
“We attended our first WOWExpo in 2018 and it was great! This year we’ll be back with a selection of wines which are fresh, concentrated, fragrant, delicious and dry. All are made with respect to where they’re from: the Vully region. Our philosophy is to produce fine-dining wines while having respect for our natural surroundings. This can be best summed up by a quote from Saint-Exupery, “We don’t inherit the land of our parents; we are borrowing it from our children”.
[quote]Forging links with Les Roches makes perfect sense for us. The restaurant industry is a large current customer with more potential for the future. Our wines are made to pair well with restaurant dishes, so featuring on the wine list of a good restaurant is an amazing shop window for Swiss winemakers.[/quote]
Domaine de Montmollin – Karine Ducommun
“We make all our wines under biodynamic guidelines. They share the subtle and fresh characteristics typically found in wines produced in the canton of Neuchâtel, but we do everything with a mindset focused on environmentally-friendly cultivation, in order to produce subtle and balanced wines.
“We will be bringing four wines to taste. Our non-filtered Auvernier Neuchâtel AOC has citrus fruit flavors and a slight vivacity; the Œil-de-Perdrix Neuchâtel AOC is the ‘real deal’, with aromas of strawberry and raspberry and a note of acidity; another aromatic red is our Pinot Noir Neuchâtel AOC; while last but not least we have our Pinot Noir “barrique” Neuchâtel AOC, which is specially matured in oak barrels.”
Albert Mathier & Fils – Amédée Mathier
“Our climate and terroir gives us the ingredients for our excellent wines, but in the end it is the end consumer, the wine lover, who chooses what wines he or she wants to buy. This is why it’s so important for us to stay in contact with the future leaders of hospitality. With the international student body at Les Roches, we can test the ‘global appetite’ for our wines and winery. You could say that WOWExpo is part of our research and development!
“As one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Switzerland, we are pleased to bring our youngest wine, Amphore, with which we’re reviving the world’s oldest winemaking method. This dates back around 8,000 years and makes use of Kvevries (Amphoras), which are a type of earthenware container buried underground and used for fermentation and ripening. We will also show our family wine, the ‘Rhoneblut’, and we’ll have a few surprises up our sleeves too!”
Thierry Constantin – Thierry Constantin
“I’ve participated in all the previous WOWExpos – for me, the opportunity to introduce my wines to the future leaders of hospitality is an interesting one, both in terms of public relations and for potentially developing new markets in the premium segment. WOWExpo visitors will be able to sample around six or seven of my wines, showcasing the Valais region and my own style of vinification.
“Every winemaker has his or her own philosophy. As for me, I like precise, straight and stylish wines, which are created to pair with gastronomy, and combine elegance freshness and digestibility. I want first and foremost to showcase the quality of the grape, and the terroir in which it grows.”
Novelle – Le Grand Clos – Anne Dafflon Novelle
“We are a very diverse wine-maker, growing 16 different grape varieties across seven hectares, from which we produce more than 25 different wines. In the 1980s I helped to pioneer this trend, pulling up a vineyard full of Chasselas to introduce a host of new varieties from several areas of France. At the same time we eliminated weed killer and fertilizer: the quality of our grapes is fundamental: no great wine without great raw materials.
“We’re delighted to be attending WOWExpo for the first time. We’ll be bringing four different wines, each with its own specialities. Our innovative Empreinte Aromatique blends several vintages and grape varieties; our Iconique Sauvignon is elegant, with a fresh lemony palate and very long finish; the Iconque Syrah is intense and aromatic; while our Point Final I is a late bottle vintage which is totally exceptional and complex due to six years’ aging in the barrel.”