On January 20, 2016, Switzerland welcomed its first wine of the year — the Neuchâtel Non Filtré. Special tasting events were held in Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds last week to celebrate its release. This unique wine is a Swiss tradition dating back to 1975.
Neuchâtel Non Filtré started after a drought reduced the annual grape harvest, according to Neuchâtel Vins et Terroir. Impatient for new wine, a friend of a local winemaker tasted the unfiltered Chasselas, which had not yet gone through its second fermentation. He asked for a bottle, and the winemaker decided to put some of the non-filtered bottles on the market. Over 40 years later, the demand for Non Filtré has persisted, and the annual tradition continues.
Before opening a bottle of Non Filtré, take a moment to turn it upside down and gently swirl it around a bit. This allows the lees to be more evenly dispersed within the wine. The wine will have a cloudy appearance when poured in a glass.
When I was out today, I noticed our local market had an informal wine-tasting with the Neuchâtel Non Filtré from Domaine de Montmollin in Auvernier. I picked up a bottle, and we’ll be having it this evening with raclette. These wines are typically recommended for an apéritif, but can also pair well with asparagus, local freshwater fish or fondue, for example.
In my opinion, I think you shouldn’t hold off on drinking these wines — enjoy them while they’re young and fresh! For the bottle of Non Filtré from Domaine de Montmollin, they recommend consuming it within the year.
If you’re interested in purchasing some Neuchâtel Non Filtré in Switzerland, you can place an online order via Neuchâtel Vins et Terroir or reach out directly to one of the nearly 30 vignerons participating in this year’s release.