Blaise Duboux, Switzerland

The spectacularly steep vineyards looming over the still waters of Lake Geneva, cling to the sheer slopes on 10,000 terraces spread over 40 levels and supported by 400 kilometres of walls constructed from the local bedrock.  This dramatic rock is clearly visible below the often shallow top soils and the strong sense of ‘minerality’ is already apparent before the grapes are even picked.

The growers are keen, not just to give a tour of the vineyards, but to recount their history which explains just why Lavaux has been designated a World Heritage Site. The marvellous, multifaceted landscape was formed by the last glacial period, 13,000 BC. However, it is the ‘cultural’ landscape which has made the area worthy of this recognition. Due to the steepness of the slopes created by the glaciers, the area was impossible to cultivate and the landscape became covered with Pine trees.  This cultural enterprise began in the 12th Century, when the Bishop of Lausanne gifted various lands to the Cistercian Order. The monks began the painstaking task of reclaiming the steep land by clearing the hillsides and creating the numerous terraces on which to plant the vineyards and the miles of terrace walls constructed from the glacial rock. This mammoth task took some 450 years to complete!

Over the following centuries the vineyards have been worked and the terraces maintained by the local vignerons. The use of tractor is impossible and everything has to be done by hand. Due to the uncompromising steepness of the slopes, unsurprisingly, erosion is a problem and special drainage systems have been created to keep the water running off the vineyards and down into the lake below.

Blaise Douboux

Situated in the village of Epesses, the Duboux family have been cultivating vines in the Lavaux for 500 years.  Blaise represents the 17th generation with 4.5 ha of vineyards which he works organically.  Due to the close proximity of his neighbours’ vineyards, it would be impossible to be fully biodynamic, but Blaise does follow certain principals, such as working by the moon and has a strong belief in sustainable agriculture. In the cellar he uses only natural yeasts, minimum sulphur and gives his wines no filtration. The wines here possess a pristine purity with a lovely focus of minerality balanced by the delicately aromatic expression of the Chasselas.  These are serious and refined wines, with a refreshing and elegant balance.

Blaise Duboux, Switzerland

“Whatever you call it, a once-prevalent Northern European cépage gets a bad rap for being better-known as a table grape (or, in Alsace, as an agent of German viticultural imperialism). But put the right genetic variants (of which there are many) in the right soil as well as the right hands and Chasselas – a.k.a. Gutedel; a.ka. Fendant – can render among the most distinctively and irresistibly delicious whites on earth.
“Where they’re famous for Chasselas – the only place – is in Switzerland’s Vaud, whose steep, towering terraces along the North Shore of Lake Geneva can in the best instances yield whites of distinguished subtlety. They are low-acid – usually undergo “malo” – yet leave you groping for mineral descriptors that do them justice, as well as for another glassful of something so instantly refreshing.”

From David Schildknecht's Best of 2012 article in Robert Parkers Wine Advocate.

Blaise Duboux

Fine Wine Stocklist at Darley Abbey Wines

Fine Wine Stocklist at Darley Abbey Wines

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