The charming village of Bonvillars gives its name to this appellation in the north of Switzerland’s second largest wine region - Vaud, and is one of a wealth of tiny, picture perfect communes whose producers cultivate wine under this label. These include Montagny-près-Yverdon, Champagne (actually a very popular place name in France and other parts of the French-speaking world), the wonderful and somewhat appropriately named Concise, and the beautifully preserved town of Grandson with its commanding medieval castle. A wine trail exists here - part of an initiative to engage tourists in the traditions of the region - offering an opportunity to taste the local wines, sample gourmet food and gain an insight into the area’s fascinating history.
The 190 hectares under vine at Bonvillars enjoy a favourable climate with plenty of sunshine and luminosity received by its mostly south-facing, lakeside slopes, and an average monthly rainfall which is the lowest in the canton. The limestone rock and rich, gravelly soil in which the vines are grown provides excellent drainage and characterises the wines of this appellation with a distinct minerality.
Chasselas and Pinot Noir together account for over 50% of the grape yield, with notable but lesser quantities of Chardonnay, Gamay, Garanoir and Gamaret. The pale pink Oeil de Perdrix - a rosé wine made with Pinot Noir - is also popular with producers and consumers in this region, being so close to the border with canton Neuchâtel, the area with which this wine is most closely associated.
Just beyond the geographically defined region of this appellation lies the village of Couvet, where in the late 18th century the first absinthe distillery was opened. Since that time, despite or maybe because of its almost 100 years of illegality, la fée verte has remained the region’s most notable point of interest where alcohol is concerned. But for those wanting something less powerful and more distinguished, something perhaps that’s a little slower to reveal its magic, the fine wines of Bonvillars AOC await discovery…