Swiss Wine: Gamaret

Gamaret is another modern variety of grape developed by the Swiss in Pully in the 1970’s. It’s known for its deep colour, dark berry fruits on the nose and spiciness. It is often aged in oak which can give it a slightly “burnt” characteristic – one of the best examples of a Gamaret I’ve tried in the past, the Grande Reserve from Chateau du Mont had a wonderful hint of toast about it.

Gamaret’s creator, André Jaquinet, crossed the Gamay and Reichensteiner (an Austrian white grape) varieties with the aim of creating a high yield, early ripening wine similar to a Pinot Noir, but with a good resistance to mildew and parasites. He succeeded and managed to generate not one but two new varieties that are still used in Switzerland today.

Gamaret (or Pully B-13 as it was first known) was originally intended for the French speaking cantons and its sister variety Garanoir (Pully B-28) for the German ones. I can’t comment on the German speaking cantons, but quite often down my end of the country they are both grown and then sold together as a blend with the lighter Garanoir softening the punchier Gamaret. You can also however buy Gamaret (and more occasionally Garanoir) as a single varietal all by itself, which is exactly what I did.

The first bottle I tried for this post was an oak aged 2011 from Villard & Fils in Geneva (CHF20 from Wine Universe at Geneva airport)

Gamaret Villard & Fils

Gamaret Villard & Fils

This was an exceptionally dark purple colour in the glass and had magnificent legs considering it was only 13%. It looked really elegant and beautiful. The nose was full of fresh berries with a hint of the woodiness underneath.

Gamaret Villard & Fils in the glass

Gamaret Villard & Fils in the glass

To drink, this wine was very smooth and refined with only a slight hint of acid and tannins. It was rich and silky and while you could taste the oak a little, it was just a hint and not at all overpowering. There was a fresh and light spiciness on the palate that became much more pronounced when I drank the wine with some food. All in all this was a lovely bottle of wine.

The second bottle was a 2012 from Domaine de Château L’Évêque who are also based in Geneva (CHF15.50 from Coop)

Gamaret from Domaine de Château L’Évêque

Gamaret from Domaine de Château L’Évêque

I was very excited to give this one a go as it had been biodynamically grown and harvested. I have heard a lot about biodynamic wines but before now I’ve not actually been able to give one a try. I was intrigued to see if the effort involved in producing such wines would show through in the glass.

Gamaret from Domaine de Château L’Évêque in the glass

Gamaret from Domaine de Château L’Évêque in the glass

Unfortunately, while this was a perfectly lovely, drinkable wine, it was not the shining example of a Gamaret that I was hoping for. It appeared was very light and thin. The colour seemed much closer to a Gamay or Pinot Noir and there were very few legs despite this wine also being 13%. At first, there was not too much scent either, it took a good vigorous swirl for it to start giving up its aromas.

When they were released, they were not the dark berries I was expecting but instead something more herby and medicinal. There was also a sweet background note which was almost toffeeish (which is “burnt” in a way I guess).

The wine itself had a very subtle spiciness with a plum/damson like finish. Overall it was a very pleasant light wine to drink and I enjoyed it quite a lot, it just tasted nothing like a Gamaret! I don’t know if this had anything to do with it being Biodynamic and reflecting its particular terroir or maybe it was just my particular bottle. I think I’ll have to try and find some more biodynamic wines and experiment!

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Fête de la Saint-Martin in Peissy – A celebration of wine

This past Saturday (the 9th November) I spent the afternoon in the village of Peissy for their St Martin’s Day festival.  The village, which is part of the commune of Satigny in Geneva, has been producing wine since 912 (making this their 1100th vintage!) and has been holding the festival to celebrate these wines since 1995.

To get there, for me, it’s a wonderful 10 minute bike ride away through the vineyards which are even more stunning than usual as their leaves are turning and on a beautiful cold and sunny day I couldn’t wait to get out and enjoy the day.

Choully vinyards

The Choully vinyards on my way to Peissy

Despite the village being pretty small there are 7 wineries!  All of them are involved in this festival and open their doors to the public for free tastings.  As with cave ouverts, you just buy a glass etched with the name of the village (CHF12) and walk from winery to winery trying what you fancy.

The festival begins at 10am with an auction of 7 barrels of the best of the previous year’s vintage (one from each domain and each holding 300 bottles!) with the money raised going to a charity which sends clowns to children in hospital.  The lucky winners will receive their wine in personalized bottles at a later date.  I didn’t turn up till after lunch so I missed this, but apparently it’s great fun to watch!

The festivities then continue all day with donkey rides and a carousel for the kids and plenty of wine, food and music for the adults to enjoy.

The donkey!

The donkey!

One of the bands - playing daddy cool!

One of the bands – They were playing daddy cool!

Of the 7 caves and domains that were open I made it round four starting off with Domaine les Perrieres.  Researching beforehand I found out that this domain has an impressive number of gold medals and I was looking forward to trying some of them as well as their very unusual Rose de Gameret

Domaine les Perrieres

Domaine les Perrieres

After sampling a fair few of their wines I could see why they have so many awards, the only one that disappointed me was their viognier which smelt divine but then tasted rather flat.  I ended up buying a Sauvignon Blanc, an oak aged Gamaret and a Premier Cru Cab Sauv and Merlot blend.

Next up I strolled down the hill to the Cave les Cretets where I tried a very interesting Sauvignon Gris (a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc) and a wonderful Gewurztraminer before working my way through their extensive collection of reds.  I eventually left with a bottle of Garanoir.

Cave les Cretets

Cave les Cretets

Feeling pleasantly merry it was time to head back up the hill and off to the Domain des Trois Etoiles which was also hosting the carousel and a candy floss machine.  Inside was another band was playing and quite a few people were dancing and joining in.  While they produce as large a variety of wines as the other domains, they only have a limited selection available to try.

Domaine des Trois Etoiles

Domaine des Trois Etoiles

My final stop was Domaine des Charmes which in addition to wines was handing out some lovely puff pastry cheese straws –  a very welcome snack as while sunny, it was quite cold out and I was getting pretty hungry.  After tasting a few of their wines it was time to head home with all my purchases before I started to lose the light.

Domain des Charmes

Domain des Charmes

Heading home

Heading home

For those who stayed the evening ended with fireworks at 18.30!  I could juts about make these out from home so I didn’t miss out entirely!