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Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape? (see TN Below)

Yes
14
88%
No
2
13%
 
Total votes : 16
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Bill Hooper

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Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Bill Hooper » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:31 pm

WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005 -100% Chasselas, 12,4% alc.-This is from the Vully in the Three Lakes region of Switzerland, on the Northern bank of Lac de Morat. Lime fruit with lemon zest and the faintest wet-rock minerality. It's extremely light, made even moe apparent by a little trapped CO2 (As is the style in the French cantons of Switzerland). It has rather nice acidity, a refreshing surprise for Chasselas. Overall, it's pleasant, easy drinking and a cool novelty, but not much for in the way of complex. I'm sure I paid less than 20 CHF.


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Last edited by Bill Hooper on Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Swiss WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005

by James Roscoe » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:34 pm

Bill,
I can't join in as I've never had it, but I like the idea of a simple poll like this. Good work!
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Re: Swiss WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005

by Bill Hooper » Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:49 pm

James,
The big question is 'Are you missing out?'. I've had a few Chasselas (mostly from Swizterland, but also from Alsace and Germany), and while I think this ancient grape is indeed worthwhile in that it may very well be a time machine into the past (all the hip kids used to drink Chasselas back in the middle ages), it tends to be rather characterless. Try to find one. If nothing else, it's a good one for your life list.


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Re: Swiss WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005

by James Dietz » Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:06 pm

Schoffit makes a very nice version... old vine at that.
Cheers, Jim
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Re: Swiss WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005

by James Roscoe » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:10 am

I will look for it. Now that I have that Lebanese variey down Obeideh or something like that, I might as well move on.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Randy Buckner » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:29 am

Bill, I've had my fair share of them, especially from Alsace. Like you say, it does not have a lot of character, but it is also not a wine to be dismissed. It is a good B wine to drink without a lot of contemplation, paired with shellfish. Try a Keintzler from Alsace if you ever get the chance.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Hoke » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:57 am

There's also a not inconsiderate amount of sparkling wine made in the Jura using chasselas, Bill.

It's actually pretty good for a sparkling base---the same qualities that make it fairly clean, simple and acidic as a still wine work in its favor as a sparkling wine. When I was a retailer in Texas we had a private label from that area that we sold for less than $10, methode champenoise, that always presented a good QPR.

So I guess the question is: is chasselas grown in the right place, and is it made in the right way?

Hey, if one producer/winemaker can make a decent wine out of chasselas, then that means the grape has value. Since I prize diversity and the pursuit of excellence when it comes to wine, I would welcome some pioneering soul who could come along and revolutionise the world's opinion of chasselas.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Bob Ross » Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:13 am

WTN

A couple of tastings -- the first was at Minetta in April 2000 and the note is by Thor Iverson; the rating was by me -- I loved the wine -- 4*:

This was followed by a true rarity, the 1955 Dornfesser Chasselas Neiderschwihrler "Cuvée Bon Choucroute", which proves the ridiculousness of the old adage "chasselas doesn''t age 45 years, you nincompoop!" Triumphant and even a bit youthfully woolly, this was a wine for the ages, though there seemed to be vanishingly little of it.

[After reflecting on this note, it occurs to me that my 4* rating probably relates to my joy at the spoof rather than a reaction to an actual wine -- if I had tasted a wine, I would normally have used a T4* rating. My belief is buttressed by another of Thor's references at a different offline: "Ah, here's an old friend in a new package: Dornfesser 2000 Chasselas Neiderschwihrler "Cuvée Bon Choucroute" (Lorraine). As always, this wine seems to be gone before it arrives, such is the affection wine geeks 'round the world have for it. Beyond ethereal, the lightest and most transparent wine I've ever tasted." The two notes can be found HERE and HERE, if you care to judge for yourself. (The recent unpleasantness prevents me from clarifying the matter directly.)]

But I'm sure this tasting last summer at Carlo Russo in Hohokus involved an actual wine: Gertie & Max Chasselas Markgräflerland Baden Germany 2005 "This delicate dry white wine is created from a fascinating grape called Gutedel (rhymes with "fruit ladle"), a.k.a. Chasselas in Alsace and Switzerland. It is said to be the world's most ancient variety. Its silky mouthfeel and slightly nutty character make it a wonderful choice as a cocktail sipper, a versatile partner for light seafood dishes, and a classic accompaniment to cheese in general and cheese fondue in particular."

12% alcohol. $12.00. Imported by Wines for Foods, New York City. Light white color, clear color, slight aroma of nuts and apples, silky and easy to like, short finish, hickory nuts and fun. 2*+.

This is a wonderful label -- one that Peter should seriously consider for his next book. Check these lovely two mice out here.

Regards, Bob
Last edited by Bob Ross on Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:29 am

I enjoy Chasselas. It may be cliché, but it is a good match with classic fondue, in fact I had a bottle of Canadian Chasselas (actually a Chasselas/Pinot Blanc blend) just last week at a Swiss restaurant (Ticino) in Banff. I've had 4 or 5 different bottlings of Chasselas from Canada and enjoyed them all. My wife bought a Chasselas from Washington State. I need to open that.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Howie Hart » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:00 am

Like James, I've never had a Chasselas wine, so I did a search on the Winegrape Glossary and discovered it is also a table grape. So to re-phrase your question in a way I can relate to, can decent wines be made from table grapes? One table grape I make wine from every year is Steuben, which I make into a rose, although most people make it white. While not particularly food friendly, I do serve it with my Thanksgiving dinner every year. It is quite pleasant as a quaffer when finished off-dry. One year when the Seyval crop was very short, the grower I patronize offered me Lakemont, a seedless table grape developed at Cornell. This also made a nice wine, with a bit of its labrusca heritage showing - kind of like a tamed down Niagara. I think many table grape varieties, when used to make wine, can produce decent simple quaffers and nothing more should be expected from them.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Paul B. » Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:49 am

Coming on the heels of Howie's fine reply, I'll add that Chasselas sounds to me very much like Seyval Blanc: material for neutral, clean, tart white wine. Neutrality isn't my preferred style of wine, but there are times when it does work.

I believe that all grape varieties are worthwhile.

Experimentation should always take place to see what grows well where and what it tastes like when grown in climates X, Y and Z, for example. To the extent that better-known varieties produce distinctly different wines based on the locations and climates they're grown in (e.g. NZ Sauvignon being different than Loire Sauvignon or SA Sauvignon), I think that any grape should be offered the same chance to show its stuff in diverse areas.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Randy Buckner » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:10 am

I think that any grape should be offered the same chance to show its stuff in diverse areas.


And now we have come full circle in the Pinot Syrah debate. Just because a grape can SURVIVE in one area, it doesn't mean it should be PLANTED in that area. Call me a traditionalist, but I want a grape to taste as expected, not some wannabe something else. We already have too many Chardonnay wannabe SBs on the market. We already have too many Syrah wannabe Pinots on the market. We already have ... well, you get the picture.

In my humble opinion, Chasselas is never going to be more than a utility grape. There is nothing wrong with that -- I certainly do not drink DRC every night. In fact, I have not had a drink in three months, gasp! Cheers.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Paul B. » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:17 am

I know where you're coming from, but I guess that I don't find atypical examples of varietal wines jarring - mostly, to me, they're interesting for simply being different. Of course when a variety produces a wine in some other place than its traditional region and ends up tasting unlike what it's been known to be, one can always bypass those wines.

I also think that utility grapes should always be given first-class treatment to see how much better their wines can be when done this way as opposed to when they're treated simply as utility grapes. Economics, though, usually get in the way of this happening.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Howie Hart » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:41 am

Paul B. wrote:I also think that utility grapes should always be given first-class treatment to see how much better their wines can be when done this way as opposed to when they're treated simply as utility grapes. Economics, though, usually get in the way of this happening.

For example, with the Steuben example I cited above, currently the grower is picking or has picked most of his Steuben for the table grape market at about 15 Brix, but for me (and other winemakers), he's letting them hang on the vines for another 2 weeks.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Paul B. » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:01 pm

Howie Hart wrote:For example, with the Steuben example I cited above, currently the grower is picking or has picked most of his Steuben for the table grape market at about 15 Brix, but for me (and other winemakers), he's letting them hang on the vines for another 2 weeks.

Howie, it is great to be able to buy from a grower who understands the needs of home winemakers and provides for them accordingly. I am having an extremely hard time finding such reasonable and helpful growers here. For years I have been wanting to find a grower with hybrids and labruscas who will let me do the picking (most places flatly refuse this with an univiting, "corporate" tone of voice and cite "insurance" prohibitions, though I suspect it's also a matter of control - they want to sell by weight, and when they pick, you have to buy the crap bunches too).

Last year I had the pleasure of picking my own Niagaras at a small private grape farm - the lady owner even helped me with the picking! The grapes were inexpensive, and while the vines were not perfectly tended, the fruit was fine. Unfortunately, she and her family moved to the Maritimes a couple of months later and I wasn't able to get a hold of whoever owns the place now.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Dan Donahue » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:42 pm

I've enjoyed the Swiss versions (sometimes called Fendant) that I've tried: clean, fresh, fruity--a nice summer white. Definitely a wine worth trying. I'm told that they can age for 5-7 years and add a nice level of complexity. So I have set aside a few bottles of '03 Dubois Dezaley that I plan to open around 2008-09.

I've been less happy with the blends, the Edelzwicker I opened didn't inspire me to look for more.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Bill Hooper » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:27 pm

In Neuchatel, Chasselas is limited to 1 kg/sq metre to gain AOC recognition -the lowest in Switzerland (at least by any governing body). This has dramatically improved the quality of the fruit. There are also Gutedel producers in Germanys Baden who employ small yeilds, barrique ageing and other "get the most" methods. Sometimes it works, sometimes the wine just gets clumsy and dull -always a concern with delicate wines and wood. I'm glad many WLDGers are also down with Chasselas/Gutedel. Might be a good wine focus next spring :)


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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by JC (NC) » Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:51 am

The Gertie and Max is a precious label indeed.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Bob Ross » Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:01 pm

I felt funny posting a link today in another thread to a page on Red Tail Hawks, JC. The mice are really cute, but the bird of prey is magnificent. I like them both. :-)
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Re: Swiss WTN: Matthey Les Gruppes AOC Vully 2005

by Dave Erickson » Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:30 pm

James Dietz wrote:Schoffit makes a very nice version... old vine at that.


I have a bottle, and I'll give it a whirl tomorrow night and report back.
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Re: Is Chasselas a worthwhile wine grape?

by Redwinger » Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:34 am

We had a Chasselas from Pouilly Sur Loire ( I believe Chasselas is the only permitted grape in this AOC, but I could be wrong about that) this summer which was a great summer sipper on the deck. Clean, crisp and refreshing. Nothing overly complex, but it nonetheless became a staple at casa Redwinger, especially at the $9 price point. Definitely "worthwhile"
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