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Breeding number Fr. 177.68. This is the correct designation for a grape variety that is called "Johanniter" in Germany, but is not allowed to be called that in Switzerland without further ado! At least not on the label. The court decided this after a lengthy legal dispute, after a winegrower from the "Three Lakes Region" filed a lawsuit because he had already had the word-picture trademark "Johanniter" protected for his Gutedel wines in 1949 and later renewed this trademark protection.

The "real" Johanniter grows in Twann on Lake Biel: a wine made from the Chasselas grape variety.

So for the time being, "Johanniter" is a wine from Twann, an idyllic winegrowing village on Lake Biel. And by the way, "Johanniter" is also a grape variety that was bred in 1968 at the State Viticultural Institute in Fribourg, a cross between Riesling and Seyve Villard.

"Johanniter"% the grape variety with the breeding number Fr.177.68

Years ago, the Swiss Federal Research Station in Wädenswil concluded after lengthy trials: "Johanniter is impressive for its quality potential, even if it has to be treated two to three times against downy mildew in locations with high infection pressure for downy mildew..... Growing this variety without fungicide use will probably only be possible in relatively dry and well-aerated locations.... In contrast, it can also be considered progress if plant protection treatments can be reduced from, say, seven to three."

Innovative Swiss winegrowers are always on the lookout for "market gaps" in the Swiss range. In the process, they are also discovering - albeit very hesitantly - interspecific grape varieties (hybrids) that are still little known in this country, which are ideal for small growing areas in particular and are very well accepted in local marketing.

Former "headquarters" of the Johanniter in Bubikon

I got to know one of these small winegrowers: almost by chance, I stumbled into a summer tasting at the winegrowers' house on the "Schlüssberg", a vineyard that is indeed traditional, but where the last vines were uprooted about a hundred years ago. The "Schlüssberg" is located in our neighbouring municipality of Grüningen. Here, seven years ago, the farmer's son Daniel Müller began to cultivate a new vineyard, which now covers 2.5 hectares. At first it was the most common white grape variety in German-speaking Switzerland, Riesling x Silvaner. But then newer interspecific varieties were added: Seyval Blanc, Solaris, Garanoir, Léon Millot, Siramé, Cabernet Cortis and - Johanniter.

I tasted the whole "programme", to the amazement of the winemaker, because the "clientele" consisted of wine lovers from the narrow region who already knew which wine they wanted to taste and buy.

I got stuck with the "Johanniter". No wonder, since my own community is widely known for the "Ritterhaus", a 12th century Johanniter settlement.

Vineyard on the "Schlüssberg" in Grüningen

What could be more obvious than that "Johanniter" is also grown in this area? Two years ago I came across the grape variety for the first time. At that time I wrote in the forum: "...what do I have in the glass: A very fruity wine, which cannot deny its relationship to Riesling in the nose. Grapefruit notes and ripe apples, which reminds me of Riesling, but also an accentuated, clear structure. On the palate, I experience the wine as quite harmonious, although not voluminous - rather somewhat "thin", with clear residual sweetness. In the finish, however, somewhat bitter, medium length....

The "Johanniter" from Grüningen% that should not be called Johanniter

Now, at the second encounter - in the beautiful vineyard of Grüningen - I found the wine even far better, more independent, more seductive. I couldn't resist taking a few bottles with me. So now there is just another cellar in the Johanniter village of Bubikon, where "Johanniter" is stored, which is not allowed to be called Johanniter.

The wine world is so curious, but this is what I enjoy most! Especially when the wine is good.

NB. In addition, a fine cuvée of "Léon Millot" and "Siramé", very discreetly aged in barriques, has "strayed" from the "Schlüssberg" into my cellar. Yesterday, two bottles were already on the table: not only me, but also my visitor was thrilled. But that's for another time.


Peter (Züllig)

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