Edelweiss, Swiss Wine, Chasselas – What?


This weekend leading up to the Oscars, if the first thing you think of when you hear Edelweiss is The Sound of Music movie, then let me start off by saying – there is no connection between the movie and this write-up.

Except maybe for the Alps.  And that is a fairly remote one.  If you were expecting more of a link – sorry to disappoint.  OK, I can stretch it out a bit.  Edelweiss is the name of today’s featured wine.  (Edelweiss, Edelweiss, …).

The Alps connection, since we will be talking about a Swiss wine.  Wait!  WHAT?!?

You read it right.  A white wine, made from the most famous Swiss grape, Chasselas.  Likely an ancient, indigenous variety, also known by the names of Fendant and Perlan in some other parts of its Alpine homeland where it finds its best expression.

Chasselas traveled down river valleys and across the oceans to spread all over the world, finding its way to bottles and fruit bowls alike.  Haven’t heard of it?  Not surprising – it is hard to find.  Case in point – well stocked shelves of my local wine merchant the LCBO – a giant, offering tens of thousands of different wine bottles every day – have only one or two different Chasselas wines at a time.

In Switzerland, known to be the most expressive of its terroir, Chasselas wine can range in tastes from flowery, to fruity and honeyed, to minerally, depending on the soil it grows on.  Omnipresent crisp acidity pairs this wine beautifully with another local speciality – cheese fondue.

Hinting at the successful matching, the Edelweiss label includes a recipe for the favoured melted cheese dish.  Love of cheese fondue makes me seek bottles of Chasselas in the first place.  For the cheese fondue though, I use an ‘old’ family recipe.

Edelweiss 2014 Chasselas pours medium yellow with a slight green tinge.  Leading minerality (which I may liken to cooked lentils:-) supports apple, pear and citrus fruit aromas.  Apple and pear replay on the palette while citrus transforms into grapefruit with some pithy – but pleasant notes.  Bone dry, with nervy acidity it cuts through the melted cheese richness, while the fruit tastes hold their own and linger on the finish.



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