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DSC_1171For once, not a wine that you have to know, or even can know. It only has regional or local significance. Nevertheless, it is interesting because it documents a development that is not only evident in Switzerland, but also in many traditional wine countries. The internationalization - also in the wine scene - has caused a countermovement; a reflection on tradition and proximity. So to speak, wines made "on the doorstep", where you can see and experience the growth and development of the vines and grapes at all stages. Solothurn, where this wine comes from, has long since ceased to be a wine canton. Where vines once grew on the gentle slopes, "beaurocracy" has long since taken over. From 1900 onwards, the vine population reduced so much that the few remaining acres no longer even appeared in the wine statistics. However, there are still historic sites where vines are now being cultivated again. For instance on the southern slope of Wartenfels Castle, above Olten. The castle and palace vines, as many examples testify (not only in Switzerland), are not only historical reminiscences, they can awaken the understanding for wine and wine culture; they can make it possible to experience how wine came to our region and ascended to social honour DSC_1101Most castles and palaces have long been museum pieces. They document the residential, living and social culture of bygone - long outdated - times. Actually, only wine has not become a museum piece; it is a living witness to the beautiful (and also the good) that has been able to survive or (as here) is being brought back. It is probably a good hectare, no more, where the vines grow again below the castle hill. This is not a vineyard size that a vintner can live on. It is mostly hobby winegrowers or winegrowers' associations who lovingly (and often skilfully) cultivate this kind of vine and wine culture. Drinking a castle wine in the baroque garden or on the castle terrace is almost a ritual for many tourists. But also the population, in the communities at the foot of the castle, look for in their "own" wine, a small piece of identity, in an agglomeration that has become devoid of identity. We find the same phenomenon today almost everywhere where wine is (or was) historically rooted. I can list a few dozen examples, also in Germany, France, Italy... In this case, the two castle wines are modern wines, from PIWIS vines (fungus resistant), which are actually little known. Cleanly made, beautiful in the aromas, fresh and full of character, quite fitting for the castle. The white from Johanniter and Seyval, the red from "Cabernet Jura", an interesting Swiss new breed. The white is much more flattering, fresher, more "cheerful", really fitting to the location where it grows, far above the plain. The red takes some getting used to, aromatic, (still) quite tannic, the taste reminds of a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon from hot regions and has a somewhat peppery note. Not necessarily a pleasure wine but rather an experience wine.

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