Occupying the western part of the northern shore of lake Geneva, this appellation accounts for more than half of the region’s total wine production and around 13% of the nation’s vines. With twelve designated areas of production dotted along its 45 kilometre sweep, the range in micro-climate, elevation, altitude and soil composition here results in a huge variety of grapes finding success.
Ten kilometres south west of Lausanne, the historic municipality of Morges gives its name to the largest of La Côte’s wine producing territories. With more than 600 hectares under vine, the Morges region stretches from the city of Lausanne to the Aubonne River, encompassing a number of renowned vin-villages as well as some lesser known but equally intriguing settlements, home to enthusiastic wine-makers intent on sharing their passion.
Nyon is the most southerly and second largest of the appellation’s sub-zones; situated at an altitude of between 1300 - 1500 feet above sea level, its 260 plus hectares of vineyard are planted on some of La Côte’s most fertile hills. Plentiful sunshine and warm summer temperatures moderated by the lake combine with mineral-rich soils to provide optimal wine-growing conditions for both red and white varieties.
Of the smaller territories Féchy is perhaps the best known outside of the region or indeed outside of Switzerland itself. The village is listed in the inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites and its vines - grown in soils of sandstone and gravel dating back millions of years, are integral to its significance. Wine is a way of life in here - a point illustrated by the village’s coat of arms which depicts a bunch of (white) grapes, between two mounted pillars!
Other notable areas are Vinzel - a 60 hectare hillside parcel overlooking the lake and including the famous Bursins vineyard, Luins - known for its quite remarkable soil diversity, and Bursinal - a tiny lakeside hamlet and the smallest of all the sub-zones with just 50 hectares of vine.
As one has come to expect in the Vaud region, Chasselas dominates production across all territories - the inimitable white grape accounting for more than 40% of the total wine produced here. Owing both to its own versatility, and the diverse terroir of the appellation’s various geographical labels, the Chasselas wines of La Côte AOC each display their own unique character. Other white varieties of note include Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Doral - an artificial cross of Chasselas and Chardonnay that yields fresh, aromatic wines. Of the red varieties, classic grapes Gamay and Pinot Noir remain popular, whilst Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Gamaret and Garanoir are also represented.
From the tranquil lake to the imposing mountains, from the tiny hillside villages to the outskirts of the cantonal capital, from Chattian sandstone to lime-rich clay … whether red or white, delicate or hardy, varietal or blend, the diverse landscape of La Côte defines the extraordinary variety of exceptional wines that this appellation yields.