Chasselas: a "little-known gem"

With only just over 6,000 hectares turned into wine across the globe, Chasselas is something of a little known variety of grape.

But, if so, that is a shame because any well informed wine lover would be very eager to possess a few bottles of it.

For the uninitiated, Chasselas or Chasselas blanc, is a wine grape variety grown mainly in Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania and New Zealand. It is light to medium bodied with a fruity, peach and pear like aroma

Chasselas also has good minerality and tartness and its many excellent pairings include accompanying Alpine cuisine, fish dishes and cheese.

Chasselas is Switzerland’s most important white wine variety and makes up over a quarter of the country’s vineyards.

The magic of this grape is its incredible ability to reveal the terroir where it is grown. While other grape varieties dominate with their aromas, Chasselas favours the complexity of flavour nuances.

It can be enjoyed young but is also suitable for ageing. Its defining feature, and virtually the grape variety’s trademark, is a remarkable freshness.

Chasselas was, in fact, first referenced as far back as 1612 under the name Fendans or Lausannois and the Swiss village of Chasselas served as the grape variety’s transition zone.

However, this is a wine that will never flood the market and the grape, certainly compared with other better known ones, can be under estimated. This is one reason why the Association for the Promotion of Chasselas, which aims to raise awareness of the grap, was first set up in 2010. Since 2012, it has organised an international tasting competition called the Mondial du Chasselas, Fendant, Gutedel.

Wine professionals in Belgium recently got the chance to (re) discover Chasselas at a special event in Brussels.

More than 40 exceptional bottles were presented, all of which won medals last June at the Mondial du Chasselas competition, in the sumptuous setting of the Château d’Aigle.

This year, for its 10th edition, this prestige international competition brought together more than 700 wines of this grape variety, characterised by large grapes, from Switzerland, France, Germany, Hungary and the United States.

Some of these were available at the event on 11 October, hosted by Restaurant Aux Armes de Bruxelles.

It was a chance to understand the Chasselas in all its diversity, ranging from young and fruity wines to wines from long aging, plus dry wines, sweet wines and old vintages.

Participants also had the opportunity to combine these wines with gastronomy through a Chasselas and cheese masterclass and also pairings with Belgian cuisine.

A spokesman for the Association for the Promotion of Chasselas said, “It is a little know gem and we were delighted to come to Brussels to show that Chasselas knows no borders.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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