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Gantenbein Pinot Noir, Graubünden, Switzerland 2020

  • $228.00
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Pinot Noir

Winemakers: Daniel and Marta Gantenbein

Farming: Sustainable

Varieties: 100% Pinot Noir

Terroir / Soil: Graubünden AOC (Bündner Herrschaft, Switzerland). Mixture of alluvial sediment and a lot of slate. Weathered schist and gneiss.

Vinification: Carefully harvested by hand and fermented in custom-built, open-top wood fermenters, typically with 20% whole clusters. Malolactic fermentation takes place in standard barriques. The wines are bottled after 12 to 14 months in Tronçais oak barriques (100% new), without filtration or fining.


Featured in our January 2023 'Serious Inquiries Only' Bottle Club:

Okay, time to get serious. The whole point of this bottle club is to bring you the most exclusive and hard to get bottles that we can find, but also bottles that are deliriously delicious and renowned. Often, we associate the great wines of the world with mainstream growing regions, like Burgundy, Napa, Piedmont or Bordeaux. But rarely do we find ourselves talking about very serious wines from regions that many of us stateside have never heard of. The wines of Gantenbein are exactly that. This producer has been nicknamed, "the Domaine de la Romanée Conti of Switzerland," a nod to what is considered Burgundy's most exclusive and sought-after winery. In Switzerland, nearly ninety percent of the wines are consumed within the nation's borders, so seeing Gantenbein bottles stateside is like spotting a unicorn in the wild— fewer than 15 cases made it to the US this year!

Gantenbein is located in the breathtaking Graubünden district of the upper Rhine valley in eastern Switzerland, where the Rhine River begins its long flow to the Atlantic. Martha and Daniel Gantenbein's journey began when they inherited vineyards in the German-speaking village of Fläsch in 1981. The climate and topography in this rugged area can be brutal, but by 1982, the Gantenbeins knew they wanted to make world class Pinot Noir. Blessed with complex alluvial soils that are rich with slate, and the autumn föhn winds that bring warm, dry air from Austria to assist in the final stages of ripening, they meticulously replanted their 4 hectares from Swiss to Burgundian clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This was an expensive and unusual endeavor in Switzerland, at the time, but it has paid off big time.

Understanding that the journey from vine to bottle is crucial in preserving the fruit's beauty, the Grantenbeins hired world class architects to build a gravity flow winery, where neither pumps nor filters are needed. Soon after, they began experimenting with various vinification approaches, including the use of German oak barrels, semi-whole cluster ferments, and custom-built, open top wood fermenters. All of these small but mighty steps over the years set them further apart from their Swiss peers, and by the early 2000s, they had reached cult status, with their slim productions always selling out before they are even bottled. 

Elevage of their Pinot Noir is always 100% in new barrique, creating rich and structured wines that can stand the test of time. According to Daniel, their Pinots should either be enjoyed within six months of bottling, or else after many years of rest. The 2020 vintage saw 14 months of time in Tronçais oak barriques, creating a full bodied and intensely aromatic wine of finesse and complexity. Allowing the wine at least 7-10 years of aging will bring forward the more subtle and nuanced components of the wine, and bring its broad structure into more delicate (and delicious) focus.  — Simi Grewal