Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews, Winery > Swiss “Caves Ouvertes” Preview

Swiss “Caves Ouvertes” Preview

Aaron and I managed to squeeze in a lunchtime tasting before the official “caves ouvertes.” I noticed that some of the caves would be open earlier than usual on Friday. So I convinced Aaron and the girls to go and off we went for a 90 minute adventure. We simply stopped at the first open cave since Aaron was on his lunch break. I had vaguely heard of “Cave de Genève” because I had stumbled upon some wine tasting at a grocery store the other day and they had a couple wines from their cave. This was one of the first times I had the infamous gamaret grape (only found in Swiss cantons of Valais and Vaud). It is rumored to be a cross of Gamay and Reichensteiner. It tastes more like Grenache (to me!) than Gamay, but it’s lighter. I really liked it.

Here's the first (and only) cave we hit today (Friday).

It was a huge warehouse type of place—no old buildings–all metal. The casks were metal as well. No oak in sight. Well, there were some barrels in the seating area, but according to Michel, the man pouring the wine, all wine here was aged in metal casks.

Cave de Geneve

No oak in sight!

Michel was very very eager to answer any question, but he didn’t want his picture taken. He said that they make some 4,000,000 liters a year. The number didn’t actually mean very much to me since I have no context for it. It sounded like a lot to me, but he looked at me like I would be disappointed with that number. I wondered why it is so difficult to get any Swiss wine outside of Switzerland. He had a very interesting answer. First, of course, there just isn’t the volume as with other countries. They are a small country and there isn’t a lot of surplus. The other answer was really interesting. It was until about 15 years ago that the Swiss vineyards were only growing Gamay and Chasselas grapes, so these were the only wines available and had no big following for export. Although, I do remember that in 2000, we used to be able to get bottles of Fendant in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. (It may be because of the large number of physicists who came from CERN and wanted to make fondue or raclette!) So it is only recently that they have been growing a great variety of grapes throughout Switzerland. Michel said that he hoped that in time, they would be able to develop a larger foreign market and be able to produce enough wine to export to North America. He said that they export to France, Germany and Japan. I found this website with the grape varieties of Switzerland in English. I didn’t realize there are many varieties that are indigenous and only found in Switzerland!

The wines.  The Cave de Geneve has two sets of wines. One is called “Les Personnalités de Genève.” Michel explained that these wines were mixed with different famous people of Geneva in mind and sounded like an interesting marketing idea as far as I could tell.


We went straight for the Gamaret which was called “L’Humaniste,” a mixture of 2010 Gamaret and Syrah. He said he didn’t know the percentages. It wasn’t as smooth as the first one I had tasted months ago, but we liked it. Michel was very helpful and confirmed that it was spicy with a hint of cloves. Aaron liked this one the best.

L'Humanist (Gameret Syrah) 2010

There is even one named after a famous Swiss feminist named Emilie Gourd, called “La Rebelle,” who was a Swiss suffragist, educator, unionist and anti-fascist, but Michel moved us onto the second group of wines called “Le Découvertes de Genève.” I wil have to taste “La Rebelle” next time! These wines are of a higher quality he told us. These wines are named after famous places in Geneva. The first one we tried is called, “Rue des Belle-Filles” (street of the beautiful girls) which is apparently a well-known street in old town Geneva and currently has a different name. This one turned out to be my favorite.  It is a Cabernet Franc 2009 19.50 CHF (Swiss francs).

Rue des Belles Filles, Cabernet France de Genève 2009

Rue des Belles Filles

It was so rich and smooth. Michel said, “tres round.” I could have drunk that one with Aaron’s magret du canard and frites and I would have been in heaven. I’ll have to ask him to make it later. Of course we got a few bottles.

Tasting some Gamaret at Cave de Genève

The next wine was called “Les vin de Phillipe Chevrier” who is apparently a famous chef in Geneva. There are a couple of wines that are mixed just for him. It is a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Savignon 2009. It was spicy, curry-like and michel said, “tannic.” It was one that I had to imagine might be better with a meal, but I thought it was too much on the spicy side. Although, now I am really curious about this chateau that is just a couple minutes away. Maybe we’ll go for lunch!

The last red wine we tasted was “La Clemence,” named after a famous bell in St. Peter’s Cathedral (famed to be Calvin’s pulpit) in the center of vielle ville, Geneva. Gamaret 2009: peppery, hint of cloves and allspice. I liked it, but it still wasn’t the Gamaret that I remembered, maybe it needs to sit for another year?

We ended with a dessert wine called “Intuition.” It tasted like summer. Savignon Gris, Muscat 2010: pear, peach (Michel said, “passion fruit”) very light. Delicious!

So, the operation definitely produces enough wine to supply a major grocery store chain (COOP) and has the slick, no frills tasting room and selling area. This place is about efficiency and cleanliness. Everyone was very friendly.

Since we had to get the girls back to school and Aaron had a meeting, we had to zoom off. They had a great setup complete with a full meal available, wine scent activities (boxes with scents in them), tours of the cave and we even got our “Caves Ouvertes” t-shirts. I’m looking forward to Saturday!

Picking up our selections behind the tasting area.

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