The wine regions: Italian-speaking Switzerland

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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There are just over 1,000 ha/2,470 acres of vineyard in the southern canton of Ticino, and barely 30 ha over the border with Graubünden in the Italian-speaking Mesolcina Valley. This makes Ticino Switzerland’s fourth most important wine canton, and 80% of its production is of the Bordeaux red variety Merlot, imported in 1906. Here, vineyards lower than 450 m/1,475 ft are sunny enough to ripen this variety, although higher vineyards may have to concentrate on Pinot Noir. Merlot del Ticino can be relatively light or, from well-sited vineyards and carefully vinified, often using new oak, can be a serious challenge for fine red bordeaux. The pale yellow Merlot Bianco, made from gently pressed black-berried Merlot, has become quite popular. Sopraceneri, north of Monte Ceneri, is an important wine region of which the local red grape variety Bondola is a speciality. It tends to be included in the rustic local version of ‘house wine’ called Nostrano, or ‘ours’, as opposed to Americano, which may include the hybrids and american vines still representing 7% of total production here. Some of the most interesting producers are Castello Luigi, Guido Brivio, Daniel Huber, Kopp von der Crone Visini, Werner Stucky, and Christian Zündel.