If you type ‘Swiss wine-making’ into an Internet image search engine, it’s likely that the first few pages of results will be dominated by photographs of impossibly steep, terraced vineyards, sweeping lake panoramas and blue skies illustrative of intense alpine sunshine. That is to say, they will be dominated by images of Dézaley - a prestigious Grand Cru appellation entirely within the UNESCO world heritage listed Lavaux sub-region of Canton Vaud. The gradient on which the vines are planted here (up to 100% / 45 degree angle in places), and the sweeping natural landscape that unfolds around these 54 hectares of premier land, make Dézaley perhaps the most famous of all Swiss wine-growing areas.
Just like its little brother Calamin, Dézaley has produced wine without interruption since the first vines were planted here in the middle of the 12th century. It was in fact in 1141, when this then uncultivated patch of land, was donated to the Cistercian Monks by Guy de Malagny (Bishop of Lausanne and native of Burgundy), in what now appears to have been a stroke of viticultural genius! Under his instruction, the monks built the stone walled terraces that snake through the steep, south-facing slopes, reshaped the land and worked the soils, revealing the fantastic terroir for which the appellation is now renowned.
Aspect is key in alpine regions, and Dézaley’s slopes, with the natural assistance of temperature moderation and sun magnification from Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), enjoy an ideal amount of sunshine resulting in its producing well-structured grapes that are rich in sugar. The elevation, coupled with the limestone / marl soils afford the vineyards excellent drainage, with the soil composition also allowing the retention of moisture for the vines to absorb when needed.
Chasselas reigns supreme here covering nine tenths of the appellation’s surface area. A versatile variety, known for its ability to reflect its microclimate and the mineral make-up of its soils, a typical Dézaley Chasselas is rich and complex with a harmonious structure.
For more than 800 years Dézaley’s wine-makers have followed tradition and fine-tuned their practice to produce wines of distinction. 100 plus land-owners, around 60 producers and an entire population of wine lovers occupy this picture-perfect parcel of vines in the beautiful Vaud countryside, where the secrets of Swiss wine are slowly being revealed…