Passionate about the art of wine making
Vines have been cultivated here for thousands of years, in this area of unspoiled scenery and villages, where this long history and the presence of Benedictine monks are still evident, between Lake Geneva and the Jura Mountains. To the north and west the Jura Mountains provide protection from the wind; to the south, Lake Geneva reflects the light and regulates heat, and between the two are the mountain waters that run towards the lake.
The biggest wine-growing region in the canton of Vaud lies between the mountains and the lake. The La Côte appellation d’origine controlée (AOC) covers 2,000 hectares between Geneva and Lausanne, marked out by water courses and low walls, dotted with chateaux and manor houses.
Cave de la Côte was established in the heart of this terroir and AOC, and has adopted its name and values – tradition and reinvention, attachment to the land and its skills, pride in its history and craftsmen and the audacity to break the rules – sometimes.
In the beginning, a handful of winegrowers from the Morges region got together in 1929 to create a cooperative cellar. Over time, new winegrowers, villages and estates, new plots and appellations in, amongst others, Nyon, Cossonay, Tolochenaz, Bursinel, St-Prex, Vinzel, Féchy and Perroy, Luins, Rolle and Mont-sur Rolle joined this initially little cluster…
La Cave de la Côte currently covers 1,800 plots of various sizes and extends over 450 hectares, from Lausanne to Satigny, in other words one quarter of La Côte vineyards. In a way it is the biggest of the little cooperatives, or vice versa. It comprises almost 300 producers and several flagship estates in Swiss viticulture, such as Château Malessert in Féchy, and La Bâtie, in Vinzel.
In incorporating small winegrowers with their own identity and respecting the typicality of each site, rather than creating a massive, anonymous structure favouring uniformity and levelling, La Cave de la Côte has adopted the personal approach of working with each winegrower and vinifying each wine individually, with the winegrower as the first point of contact and partner for the cellar’s team of winemakers and cellar masters. La Cave de la Côte has remained faithful to the original meaning of the cooperative and truly belongs to its producers.
The variety of terrain is important for a small area, in international terms. Rhône glacier moraine that forms the base is mixed with and overlaid by fine, muddy, clayey materials, molasse, chalky, pebbly and sandy deposits. The gravelly soil near the lake is countered by the heavier soils at the foot of the Jura Mountains, effectively AOC microclimates.
Even if the majority of the region is still planted with the three heritage grape varieties of Chasselas, Pinot Noir and Gamay, since the turn of the century there has been a real revival and great daring…
There are now more than 30 grape varieties in the region, indigenous and newcomers, as well creations in which la Cave de la Côte has played a pioneering role. Chasselas and its white relatives from our region, Chardonnay and Viognier, have been joined by early-maturing Doral, a cross between Chasselas and Chardonnay. Where reds are concerned, the range is greater and, without doubt, even more spectacular: traditional Pinot and Gamay are accompanied by Gamaret and Garanoir, as well as Merlot and Cabernet Franc, until recently scarce in our climate, plus Servagnin, an ancient variety that has been reintroduced, and the new arrivals even include Mara, Divico and Gallotta.
A new style of viticulture has emerged in La Côte, demonstrated by a real qualitative awareness that has been welcomed by observers. La Cave de la Côte is playing a leading role in this, in partnership with the Changins Institute of Agronomic Research (Institut de recherches en agronomie de Changins) and the School of Wine (Ecole du Vin). New grape varieties and innovative cultivation methods are tested in partnership with Agroscope’s researchers. Wine production is now really dynamic, as shown by the numerous wines winning awards at national and international competitions that are made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Gamaret Garanoir in particular. Just a few years ago, no-one could have imagined the extent to which they would become part and parcel of the la Côte wine-growing and -making landscape.