Swiss Bliss: Welcome To Gantenbein

“The wines from Martha and Daniel Gantenbein are a safe investment, and no matter if they’re Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, they are still among the finest and most vibrant wines produced in modern Switzerland,” writes Stephan Reinhardt of Wine Advocate of this estate in the Graubünden (Grisons) district of the upper Rhine valley in eastern Switzerland. It’s one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on Earth, but why are you reading about it here? Well, Erni Loosen made the introduction, reasoning that the most famous Swiss Pinot might be of interest to an Australian audience. Most of the vineyard is planted to Burgundy clones of Pinot Noir, which is hand-harvested and vinified in custom- built, open-top wood fermenters, typically with 20% whole clusters. Malolactic conversion takes place in barriques. The wines are bottled after 12 to 14 months in oak, without filtration or fining. Even in a good vintage, the yields are quite low — only about 1.5 tonnes per acre, for an average production of about 1,200 cases of Pinot Noir and about 200 cases of a fine, mineral-focused Chardonnay. Sue Style – who as well as having a cool name also writes for the How To Spend It supplement of London’s Financial Times – evokes the situation well. “The Gantenbeins do things differently. All their efforts go into producing just three wines, labelled simply Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling, with a single quality level – the best. The results have given the wines cult status and placed them firmly (and frustratingly) in the hen’s teeth category.” Top-notch and rare they are – but they’re also here, and well worth hunting down.

2016 Gantenbein Chardonnay RRP $280
Bottled in spring this year, Gantenbein’s 2016 Chardonnay displays a radiant citrus colour and opens with a pure, fresh and mineral nose of white and citrus fruits intermixed with crushed stone notes. This is nothing but exciting in its crystalline expression and finesse! Lush and intense on the palate, this is a concentrated, firm, slightly pithy 2016 that has not yet developed the length and the character of the earlier vintages but with its elegance, finesse and long, piquant finish, this wine goes with bucket full of talents into the future. Tasted November 2018. 93 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate

2016 Gantenbein Pinot Noir RRP $280
The 2016 Pinot Noir is pure, fresh and aromatic on the well-concentrated nose, a great mix of fine red berries and crushed slate. Pure and intense on the palate, this is a concentrated, tight and linear Pinot with great tension on the finish. Very salty and fresh, taut and promising. Tasted November 2018. 94 points. Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate