By Laurent Probst | August 1, 2011
The Estate of the « Cru de l’Hôpital (Hospital) » is the property of the bourgeoisie of the nearby city of Murten (a very pretty medieval town worth visiting). The winemaker, Christian Vessaz, trained as oenologist in the Changins school of viticulture in western Switzerland. He is the technical director since he took office in 2002 after his graduation.
For the record, it was the only one at the time to answer the tender launched by the owners. That is an indication of the lack of credit given to the Vully wine region. Meanwhile Christian Vessaz, a native of Vully, was convinced of the estate’s potential, which he has now brilliantly demonstrated.
Today, the “Cru de l’Hôpital” is the region’s leader for its wine quality, and not just for Vully but for the entire three lakes region (Murten, Neuchâtel and Biel) .
A quick word about the Vully, the area consists of 150 ha (370 acres) shared between Fribourg and Vaud. The very healthy stimulation that prevails among the owners of the smallest wine appellation in western Switzerland and the quality of the wines they produce leads me to think that ignoring both the quality and diversity proposed here would be a regrettable mistake.
Wines are priced both wisely and attractively. Some Chasselas wines cost less than ten francs, and other white wine specialties cost less than fifteen francs.
The wine style of “Cru de l’Hôpital” could be summed up very simply: aromatic precise, fresh and vinous. Undeniably the harvested berries were fully ripe and this is reflects in the wine, and provides a nice balance. All white wines in particular have a nice complexity. They are vinified as often as possible without the second fermentation (malolactic) and are supported by their power. They are also dry (without residual sugar). They are undeniably geared towards gastronomy.
Pinot Noir and chasselas represent 70% of the estate’s production. The other main varieties are: for red, the gamaret and garanoir; and for white the choice is wider: pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, viognier (a very limited production) and traminer (local name for gewurztraminer).
The introduction of the traminer variety in the Vully was conducted back in the seventies by Christian Vessaz’s predecessor. At the time the estate obtained a gold medal in an international competition with a wine from this grape. The first from Vully! Nowdays Christian Vessaz pursues with conviction on the same line. It is thanks to the Traminer Cru de l’Hôpital that the estate has become an ambassador of the Swiss viticulture and a member of the Swiss exclusive association “The Swiss Wine Memory”.
In the winery, modernity is not excluded; trials with concrete amphora and truncated wooden tanks are pursued in addition to the traditional stainless steel tanks. Aging barrel are also used, but limited to two wines (a red blend, a sweet wine). The vines are grown according to the standards of integrated production. The winemaker studies new methods such as Biodynamy.
Treated in this way, there is no wonder why the “Cru de l’Hôpital” has become a reference !