If you’re looking for a new wine this summer to pour for your friends, try a glass of the 2007 Chateau d’Auvernier Neuchatel.
In 1559, Blaise Junod constructed Chateau d’Auvernier on the shores of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland. Pierre Chambrier bought the castle and surrounding vineyards in 1603, and four centuries later, Chateau d’Auvernier remains with Chambrier’s descendants, the family of Thierry Grosjean.
In early spring, Sophie Grosjean presented her wines during lunch at the Brass Rail in Hoboken. Spread across the table were Chateau d’Auvernier’s white, rose and red wines. Swiss wines are a much less common sight than Swiss watches and clocks, even though the former are a fraction of the cost. And I couldn’t recall the last time I sat down to a tasting of them.
We started with the 2007 Chateau d’Auvernier Neuchatel, a white wine. Made only with the chaffelas grape, it has a very attractive floral scent. Its medium body is built around tart apple and mild citrus flavors. The wine has a hint of sparkle to it, what the Italians call “frizzante” as opposed to a full sparkling wine. The combination of aroma, flavors, and “frizz” made me fast-forward to a warm summer day with a glass of it in hand.
We tasted the pinot gris, which had mild fruit flavors; a copper-colored rose made from pinot noir that was delightful with raw tuna and a drizzle of soy; and the pinot noir with its bright strawberry hue and flavor. All were well-made, and each could have its place at a summer buffet, yet I was drawn back to the Neuchatel white.
In perfect English, Sophie Grosjean explained how her generation is making its contribution to the family’s 400-year wine journey. They have started the process of organically farming their vineyards and making the wines according to biodynamic methods, which is a philosophy of cultivating and making the wines in sync with the cycles of the moon and sun. It’s a way of thinking and acting that keeps a laserlike focus on the soil, vines and winemaking.
Returning to the 2007 Neuchatel, I noticed it was only 11.5 percent alcohol — lower levels are just what you want on hot days. This is a wine that makes a delightful aperitif. It also complements Japanese cuisine and plays a supporting role to soft-shell crabs and freshly caught New Jersey flounder.