"Chianti!" "Bordeaux!" Why not put Swiss wine in your World Cup? Testuz Chasselas du Pays Romand 2003
- "Viva Italia!"
- "Allez les Bleus!"
- "Numero uno!"
- "Premier au monde!"
- "Anchovy pizza!"
- "Foie gras pâté!"
On a weekend when everyone had to pick sides and honk for either Italy or France, I opted for traditional Swiss neutrality. I shut myself in, turned the TV off and had myself a rather large but inoffensive salad.
Then I poured myself some Chasselas, a variety of white wine from Switzerland, which happens to the homeland of reigning Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. This is the first time I've had a real Swiss wine. I relished the subversiveness of all: walking down the empty streets to a totally vacant liquor commission (save for a few miffed employees who from time to time would peer across the block to the jammed-pack sports bar for a sign as to which team was winning the World Cup), picking out a peculiar Swiss bottle and doubling back for home. The purchase was so stealthy, so quick and without any hesitation whatsoever, it reminded me of a superbly struck Federer backhand.
Say, didn't he just win that title again for like the FOURTH CONSECUTIVE TIME? Yes, he did. In fact, it was probably between televised head butts and penalty kicks that Champ Roger joined Amélie Mauresmo, the newly crowned women's winner, to celebrate their weekend hauls at the Wimbledon Champions' Dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London.
Amélie was likely stressed that her French football team couldn't rise above the situation to win the match like she had done on the court against the wiles of Justine Hénin-Hardenne just one day earlier. I'm sure if she had some lovely wine like the Testuz Chasselas du Pays Romand in reach she'd enjoy it nonetheless. She earned that and much more with a solid and well-constructed victory.
I should be perfectly clear about Amélie being something of a connoisseur of fine wines. While anyone can tell you a Swiss vin de pays is quite different than an well-aged Bordeaux, it is important to realize that this women's world No. 1 is so congenial, pleasant and easy to get along with that you'd have no inkling of doubt she'd join Roger in a glass of his local Chasselas and a chaser, or two, regardless of World Cup results or the calibre of this provincial wine.
Here's what I know about this Chasselas varietal:
FOR FEDERER AND THIS GRAPE, NEVER BETTER TIME TO BE NEUTRAL
Chasselas is the white grape of Switzerland, especially the French-speaking western regions of Valais, Vaud and Geneva, where it makes up the vast majority of grape yields. Like its homeland, Chasselas is known as a neutral grape and interesting only when in the hands of reputable vintners who can use it to coax out aromatic characteristics of the terroir. Hugh Johnson writes that the Chasselas of Valais is typically racy or exotic; Vaud's is refined and full; and Geneva's is simply elegant.
My purchase wasn't a direct mapping to any of the above, though Valais is perhaps the best fit in retrospect. Overall, I would label Testuz Chasselas du Pays Romand 2003 flinty and slightly fizzy (which supposedly is a trait of northern Neuchatel's Chasselas). But if trademark characteristics don't come through it is likely due to the fact that this Chasselas du Pays Romand is a vin de pays and as such sidesteps around the three big appellations of these French cantons.
It has a light straw colour. Acceptably bracing acidity and good mouthfeel, this Testuz wine is light and refreshing on the palate. Exceptionally mineral-y with hint of butterscotch towards the finish.
An aftertaste like that was a nice segue into my dessert, which of course was Swiss Almond ice cream. Delicious and potentially churned from Roger's very own Swiss cow!
Jean et Pierre Testuz, Treytorrens en Dézaley, Schweiz (Switzerland). 12%.