September 26, 2010. Cutest little wine bottles I’ve ever seen. They walked. They talked. They paraded through the winding streets of Lutry. Far from the familiar vineyards and wine culture of San Luis Obispo County, I delighted in witnessing the spirited wine harvest festivities of this charming Swiss town’s Fete de Vendages. Located in the French speaking region of Switzerland, Lutry’s idealic geography presented the perfect backdrop for this annual celebration. Located along the shores of the clear blue Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and set in the heart of the Lavaux—a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site that stretches 15 miles along the lake, famous for its remarkable sloping terraced vineyards—thunderous marching bands blared proudly; rows of vendors set up shop for visiting families; and children dressed in harvest-themed costumes gleefully wound their way through this enchanting medieval town.
êt de Plan, Laurier d’Or Terrain millésine. Highly acidic, Chasselas is the second most widely grown grape in the region (second behind Pinot Noir and ahead of Gamay).
Served in traditional Vaudoise glasses (Lutry lies in the canton of Vaud—roughly the equivalent of a state in the U. S.), these small shotglass-sized receptacles didn’t keep the three of us from drinking the entire bottle fairly quickly. Although this slightly effervescent, yellow-golden hued drink (with a misleading light flowery nose) tasted of the whiskey I used to begrudgingly drink in the hostess bars of Japan, we continued to pour and consume every last drop of the Chasselas. With a slightly bitter citrus finish that reminisced of grapefruit, the alcohol content was all of 11.5%, a far cry from the ripe high alcohol wines of SLO County.
But I was grateful to be far from my customary surroundings, allowing my culinary sense of adventure to lead me along the far-reaching terraced slopes of Switzerland, not knowing what culinary treasures or extraordinary landscapes would continue to cross my path.Venturing across the world to explore an unfamiliar wine region, in search of exotic varietals, foreign landscapes and regional cuisine, Lutry’s spirited festival bequeathed me with a seasoned start to my gastronomic quest...my palate marched on.
|This fiery procession marched on as well.|
|In spite of the earsplitting parade, Lutry rests quietly on the lake; the magnificent French Savoie Alps watch over this medieval fishing village.|
|Vines. Vines. And more vines. The green swell of the hillside gently meets the crystal-clear water.|
|These marching rainclouds were an adorable reminder of the frequent rain that nourishes the well-drenched vines that thrive in this stunning wine region.|
|These elfin peasants looked content with their crush.|
|A petite religious order pranced through the streets with their barrel of wine.|