Fondue in Southwest Switzerland
In Switzerland, fondue originated as a peasant food.
It continues to be a main course and is not generally
served as an appetizer.
To discover new flavorings for fondue, consider the
many choices offered for fondue and raclette at
Restaurant Sterner. The fifth-generation family owned
establishment tucked into a corner of the village
of Visperterminen offers options as plentiful as the
wildflowers in the Alpine meadows in the Valais
area—fondue with amber or dark beer, Champagne,
tomatoes, pesto, chili, mustard, curry, local saffron,
onions and lard. There is also an alcohol-free version.
Because the Swiss take their cheese seriously by
region, the style of cheese varies by location. The
Sterner “house blend” fondue option may include
Gruyere, Vacherin Fribourgeois and Valaisanne AOP
(appellation d’origine protégée)-protected raclette
cheese—but restaurants don’t share their special
blends. Fondue moitié-moitié at Sterner is the
traditional blend of half and half classic cheeses
Gruyere and Vacherin Fribourgeois. P H O
Camille Gariglio, head sommelier at Le Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville de Crissier,
notes that chasselas offers floral aromas and ages better than chardonnay. Rodriguez
agrees, noting that he waits up to 20 years to drink chasselas from Louis-Philippe Bovard,
10th-generation producer at Domain Louis Bovard in the Lavaux AOC near Lausanne.
At Brasserie du Royal, sommelier Reza Nahaboo also recommends chasselas
among the wines on the one-third of his list from Switzerland. He may pair chasselas
from Chateau Maison Blanche, which he describes as a “tender, refreshing wine with a
slight woody aroma” with fish. His list also includes chasselas made by Daniel Dufaux,
head winemaker of Badoux Wines.
Produced since 1908, Badoux is one of the best-known Swiss brands with some
of the largest vineyard holdings in the country. Chasselas, petite arvine, cornalin and
other local varietals, along with international varietals such as pinot noir and gamay,
are produced. With its memorable lizard label, the most familiar Badoux brand is Aigle
les Murailles. Both the red and white versions are distributed in the U.S.
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, Coaltrain Fine Wine & Spirits sells several Swiss
wines, including Domaine Louis Bovard Aigle Cuvée Noe and Badoux Aigle les
Murailles. Taylor Courey, wine consultant at Coaltrain and an advocate for chasseslas,
says, “I was fortunate to do a tasting of chasselas producers from around the country. In
my opinion, the Badoux wines were the crème de la crème of what I tasted head-to-head.”
Swiss food continues to find a niche on the American menu, and the wine from the
country is highly regarded. With a menu highlighting Swiss fondue and specialties,
Levy says his wine list begs for more options. “We’d like to strengthen our Swiss
beverage options, from wine and beer to liqueur.”
DEBORAH GROSSMAN IS A SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA JOURNALIS T WHO WRITES ABOU T PEOPLE, PLACES AND PRODUC TS THAT IMPAC T
THE FOOD-AND-WINE WORLD.
oPPosite: domaine du mont
d’or cheese-and-wine pairing.
aBove: at vevey trois couronnes,
a fish dish, left, and scallops
carpaccio with butternut squash.