After visiting wineries and relatives in Italy, I got on a train for 8 hours and visited my aunt in Weggis Switzerland. Weggis is a small town with a magnificent view of Mt.Rigi. The winery Erich Meier located an hour drive from my aunt's house near the Lake of Zurich. To my surprise, the winery was located in the middle of residential area, not on the lake side. Mr.Erich Meier, the owner, the vintner and the grape farmer is the third generation who decided to open a winery after 2 generations of grape growing. He trained himself at Barrossa Valley Australia and opened the winery 17 years ago. 42 years old of age, Erich is a tall man and has a determined German face( a kind of face that reminds me of military uniform) but also has a very charming smile. I couldn't wait to hear his story.
The tasting was held at the wine making facility, not in the tasting room, because they were expanding the premises. It was pretty cold day for doing tasting with no heater on,but I was intrigued to his passionate talk and eventually forgot how cold I was.
He produces 45,000 bottles/ year,mainly white wine but few reds too and we got to try two red wines that day. His wine making style is to get the best out from each variety yet add more complexity and body to the wine using modern and classic technics. That might be why he uses barrel aging to several white wines.
We first started with a local grapes called Rauschling, aromatic and easy to drink white wine. The next was Sauvignon Blanc which had a good body and balance. Pinot Gris was matured using Sir Lee technique( mature the wine with lees for a year for the purpose of adding complexity and richness to the wine). It was fruitful, had a hint of tannin with a long smooth finish. I haven't tasted many Pinot Gris but my impression for this variety was some what neutral, simple and light body type of wine like Koshu, so this Pinot Gris has renewed my image to this variety.
His goal is to produce wines that can compete in the world market, not just locally. Most wines in Switzerland are consumed locally but he wants to a make the difference. He believes that good wine comes from good grapes and so he took all measure necessary to keep the grapes in a good condition until they are press into wine. His grapes are hand picked during cooler temperature, keep them in a temperature controlled condition and squeeze them as soon as possible to prevent the grapes from oxidation. Each variety was carefully processed to get the best out of each characteristics in the terroir of his place. His wines were all pure, clean and express the characteristics of each variety straightforward.
He exports to Autralia, Hong Kong and few European countries but not to Japan yet. That was when I pulled out my name card and handed to him.
His wines got several awards, too.
We saw many vineyards along the lake of Zurick like above picture on our way to Erich's winery.
It was raining when we visited him, so we couldn't see his vineyard but it would look like this picture on a sunny day.
We tasted 5 wines that day. Rauschling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Plural which was the only wine he blends two varieties, 90% of the local grape called Dionoir and 10% of Pinot Noir.
Erich prefers to use single variety when making wines but he wanted to see the potential of Dionoir. The wine was fruitful with a good balance of tannin and the acidity of Pinot Noir added a nice smooth finish to the wine. Not too heavy, yet not too light, a good medium body wine.
The wines he makes all had a robustness and good structure. He makes white wines in a way so that it wolud have potential to get aged.
Each wine expressed its variety very well. I liked them all but my favorite wine this day was Pinot Gris.
Ever since My conpany bought the Pinot Noir from California, I've been thinking if my first imported wine goes well, then I would like to look for a nice white wine. I had guessed that the next wine I'll source wolud probably from California and I didn't expect to find a really nice wine in Switzerland. But Erich is also a third generation grape farmer like Jake who makes the Masut Pinot Noir, both became a wine maker, both applying sustainable method, and very serious and passionate about making wine... Am I the only one seeing some fate in here?? Since I am half Swiss, importing Swiss white wine sounds like a really good next step. Well we will see...