Regions and Appellations Switzerland Ticino [Tessin]

Ticino [Tessin] Wine

Ticino is a relatively small wine region in the alpine south of Switzerland, prized for its Merlot, and located along its border with Italy. The wine region's borders follow those of the canton of Ticino, a primarily Italian-speaking enclave in the landlocked multilingual country (the canton is called "Tessin" by the French and German speakers). 

Vineyards in region cover just over 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) and are centred around the rivers and large, alpine lakes of the canton. The latter are a major tourist attraction - much like the lake of Como, just 5km (3 miles) from Ticino's southernmost tip - and they all share water with Italy.

The terraced, alpine vineyards of Ticino
© Swiss Wine

Merlot is the flagship variety here. This Bordeaux variety, which may seem an unusual variety of preference for a Swiss wine region, was introduced to Ticino in the early 20th century.

It makes up just over 80 percent of the entire vineyard area and has been so successful, it has been given its own appellation: Merlot del Ticino. This can be relatively light or – when from the warmer, sunnier vineyards and carefully vinified with oak – as fine and well structured as good red Bordeaux.

Other varieties include Chardonnay (4 percent) and Sauvignon Blanc (1.7 percent). In total, white wines only represent nine percent of the regional output.

Other than Merlot, reds include (in order of planting area) Cabernet Franc, Pinot NoirCabernet Sauvignon and one of Switzerland's "indigenous" crossings: Gamaret.

In climatic terms, Ticino stands out somwhat from other Swiss wine regions thanks to its topographyaltitude and latitude. As is fitting for the most-southerly region, it has some of the hottest average summer temperatures - although the neighbouring Valais to the west also can also have periods when the daytime temperature rises as high as 35 celsius (95F).

It is still possible to find vines trained in the pergola style - a feature sometimes seen in the dramatic vineyards of the upper Aosta Valley, Rias Baixas and some vineyards of Sicily. This system, in which vines are trained overhead on wooden frames, is comparatively uneconomical – the structure typically being too low to allow vineyard machinery to pass beneath it.

The more-modern cordon and guyot training systems are gradually becoming the norm here. In some sections, normally on the steeper sites, vines may be staked "en gobelet" - a form of spur pruning the head of the vine, which is found in the vineyards of the northern Rhone.

Due to their alpine nature, Ticino's vineyards are fragmented, albeit often found on slopes and terraces, enjoying a good aspect and a lacustrine or riverine view. Large vineyards are few and far between, as the valleys tend to be reasonably narrow – rarely broader than three kilometers (two miles) from one side to the other.

This limits the quantities that Ticino can generate as a wine region – a fact that will play an important part in the its future identity. Currently, the land is owned by a large number of independent growers who either sell their grapes to bigger companies or collaborate to form co-operative structures.

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Most Popular Ticino [Tessin] Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Avg Price
Gialdi Merlot Sassi Grossi, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 8,327th 92 $54
Vinattieri Ticinesi Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 8,568th 90 $141
Zanini Castello Luigi Rosso del Ticino, Switzerland Bordeaux Blend Red 8,832nd 90 $147
Tenuta Castello di Morcote Fuoco, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 18,192nd $121
Brivio Merlot Riflessi d'Epoca, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 22,096th 91 $43
Quattromani Merlot Cuvee, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 22,096th 89 $61
Daniel Huber Montagna Magica Malcantone Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 29,177th 90 $56
Vinattieri Ticinesi Ligornetto Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 29,177th 88 $47
Tenuta Castello di Morcote, Ticino, Switzerland Cabernet Franc - Merlot 29,522nd 90 $50
Brivio Merlot Bianco Rovere, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 30,948th 88 $34
Agriloro - Tenimento dell'Or 'Sottobosco', Ticino, Switzerland Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot 32,912th 89 $39
Christian Zundel 'Orizzonte' Vino da Tavola della Svizzera Italiana, Ticino, Switzerland Cabernet Sauvignon - Merlot 39,754th 91 $56
Brivio Merlot Platinum, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 41,003rd 90 $98
Cantina Pelossi 'Lamone' Riserva Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 43,005th 90 $40
Matasci Fratelli Selezione d'Ottobre Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 44,455th $17
Trapletti 'Culdree' Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 46,040th 90 $56
Chiodi Ascona 'Ultima Goccia' Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 46,888th 89 $33
Gialdi Trentasei, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 48,655th 90 $98
Chiericati 'Sinfonia Barrique' Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 49,575th 89 $37
Zanini Castello Luigi Bianco del Ticino, Switzerland Chardonnay 50,522nd 88 $132
Delea 'Carato' Merlot Riserva, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 51,526th 90 $55
Cantina Monti 'Il Canto della Terra' Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 52,678th 91 $109
Cantina Monti Rovere Merlot, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 52,678th 89 $41
Brivio Merlot Baiocco, Ticino, Switzerland Merlot 54,965th $21
Cantina Monti Malcantone Rosso dei Ronchi, Ticino, Switzerland Rare Red Blend 58,748th 90 $48
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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