Baur au Lac Vins:
Premium Wines for Every Budget
Premium Wines for Every Budget
Like the hotel of the same name, Baur au Lac Vins is synonymous with luxury. But quality does not have to be expensive. The wine trader relies on a good price-performance ratio and a production process using methods that are as natural as possible.
The Baur au Lac is one of Switzerland’s most famous hotels. What is less well known is that the building on the shores of Lake Zurich has been involved in the wine trade right from its construction in 1844. The company was a pioneer in the sale of Burgundy and Bordeaux in Switzerland. In those days, the fine wines were stored in barrels in the hotel cellar and decanted into bottles. Baur au Lac Vins remains part of the family business and sells over 3,000 wines and premium spirits in its wine shops, from around 400 mainly European wine growers and producers.
Careful Product Selection
The range has grown steadily over the past 173 years. The demand for excellent wines and exclusive wine experiences remains as high as ever, and this is the basis for the company’s business concept. Baur au Lac Vins is a premium wine trader – but that is not to say that its wines are always expensive. “Even a Rioja that costs 17 Swiss francs can be a premium wine if the quality meets our requirements,” says Director Stephan Radloff. He explains that the claim of “true value” does not refer to the price, but rather to a good price-performance ratio.
Even a Rioja that costs 17 Swiss francs can be a premium wine if the quality meets our requirements
Director Stephan Radloff
The level of performance that is required is shown by the acceptance rate during tastings, which is 1 to 2 percent. In other words, out of every hundred new wines tested by the purchasing team, only one or two make it into the Baur au Lac Vins product range. A handful of new vineyards are added each year – more than in the past. “This increased impetus is in line with changes in consumer behavior,” says Radloff. “Wine lovers these days are more adventurous.” And more demanding: While the consumption of wine has been falling for years, customers are more willing to purchase high-quality products. “The Swiss prefer to drink less, but to enjoy a better wine.” For example, sparkling wine from West Sussex in England – not exactly what comes to mind when you think of a landscape of vines. “England will be interesting in the long term,” predicts Radloff, “as climate change is improving growing conditions.” What’s more, the chalk soil found there is just as good as in Champagne. English wines are now being bought not only by expats, but also by innovative bar owners.
Swissness at the Vineyard of the Year
And what is being grown locally? In the superior quality segment, local wines have seen “extremely positive development,” enthuses Radloff. However, due to high land prices and the work involved in managing the many slopes, Switzerland is not competitive when it comes to everyday wines. The limited land available for cultivation in this country also means that the best wines are only available in small quantities. However, “Swissness” can also be found in foreign wines. For example, in those from Villa Caviciana in the Italian region of Latium, where a Swiss operator is responsible for the vines and wine. Baur au Lac Vins has chosen the organic-certified business on Lake Bolsena as its vineyard of the year for 2017/18. “We use this award to highlight exceptional vineyards and share their success story,” explains Radloff. Villa Caviciana has been particularly focused on its organic direction, planting vines on previously uncultivated land, including native varieties, which are picked by hand and carefully vinified.
Organic Stands for Quality
Baur au Lac Vins generally prefers wines that are grown and produced organically or biodynamically. “Thanks to a natural and resource-sustaining approach, these wonderful locations should also be available for generations to come,” says Radloff, explaining his sustainability concept. The presence of an organic label is not that important because at Baur au Lac Vins, organic is chosen not for promotional reasons, but for quality assurance. For Baur au Lac Vins, most of its sales come from hotels and the food service industry. It goes without saying that the wine menus in the restaurants of the Hotel Baur au Lac are, with a few exceptions, made up of a selection of wines from Baur au Lac Vins. Many diners in the restaurant also pay a visit to the wine shops. The hotel and wine shops hold joint events such as the Fresh Caviar Night or the Rive Gauche Summer Party, so Baur au Lac Vins benefits from its famous parent company – and vice versa.