TN: 2012 Gantenbein Chardonnay

„Wenn Du es gut machen willst, musst Du alle Besseren kennen – und getrunken haben.
Beim Chardonnay gilt: „Wir lieben die Mineralität grosser Chablis, die fruchtige, schmelzige Kraft weisser Burgunder und unseren Chardonnay, der beides vereint.“

Martha & Daniel Gantenbein

2012 Gantenbein Chardonnay

The first real (!) spring day with 22 C yesterday in Berlin, it was warmer than Venice, Palma de Mallorca or Sicily. Time to open something special for the balcony. Maybe a bit too rich for a spring day, but I was in the mood for a Gantenbein.

Gantenbein is considered one of the top wine producers in Switzerland. It is a small producer in eastern Switzerland, at the end of the Rhine. Their 6 hectares of vines are planted at 500 m in the foothills of the northern Alps, in the Graubünden (Grisons) appellation. 5 ha are for Pinot Noir and the rest (approx. 1 ha) is mainly for Chardonnay with a little bit of Riesling as well. The average annual production of this Chardonnay is only 200 cases and around 200€ per bottle.

Let me translate the quotation by the owners above: "If you want to do it well, you need to know all the better ones - and have been drinking. We love the minerality of great Chablis, the powerful fruity, creamy white burgundy and our Chardonnay, which combines both.“

It is indeed a cross between a GC Chablis and GC Burg, fair to say the GC Burg had clearly the upper-hand yesterday. Some creamy richness, a caramel hint of oak, butterscotch and a light (!) Chablis-like minerality in the finish. In 2019 the minerality was clearly more dominant in this wine which suits my Riesling-palate better. But I liked it anyway, what is not to like regarding this Swiss Chardonnay. Or maybe it was this surprising 18 C at 18:30 in Berlin at my balcony which lifted my mood. haha


spring in Berlin

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Thanks, Martin,

I never heard of this producer before. After reading your note, I thought I will have to try and source some. When I looked briefly online, pricing was rather high (for the 2019): @$275 US. Worth it? Or should I just save my money for Berlin in spring, which I enjoyed very much in 2018?


Gantenbein is a very famous Swiss estate. Fair to say Swiss wines in general are hard to find even in Germany.

Worth it? Difficult question, this you have to decide for yourself. An argument could be maybe that a Gantenbein Chardonnay is cheaper than a Chardonnay from other regions.

AND with $275 US you also has enough for just 1 night in Berlin. [wink.gif]

Nice note - and picture!
You did well to drink it with some age on it, the oak can be very prominent in its youth. Good stuff, as you say. The Pinot isn’t too bad either. He makes a small quantity of Riesling as well, but I have never tasted it.

And yet at that price the wines tend to disappear almost instantaneously.

There are no cheap Gantenbeins. I’ve had both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir once, and they really are some of the most amazing Swiss wines there are. Many people liken these wines to Burgundy Grand Crus, but I think the comparison might be more apt in regard to the pricing rather than the style. :smiley:

I’ve understood they can be quite oaky in their youth, as mentioned above. However, the wines that I’ve had have been +10 years old at the time of drinking, so no problems with wood at that point.

Very interesting entry Martin. Thank you for sharing tasting notes for this rare chardonnay. As Joshua did I looked online for USA availability and was a bit stunned to see the pricing. When I looked up the winery deja vu hit me as I had seen their very unique winery building. The brick/blocks are arranged to make the siding look like grapes from all angles. Very cool building.
Grape Architecture.jpg

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Price is +/ -100$ orginally(ex. 2020 ), a allocation wine.

Thanks, Roman,

Very helpful. All and all, it looks like it would be fun to visit them!

Thanks for the note Martin - I would love to try this Chardonnay someday. I bought the '07 Gantenbein Pinot years ago after it was suggested that I try - bought a case of it back then. I’ve been consuming these bottles over the years and really love it - high quality stuff.

Gantenbein is quite lovely.

sure so. [cheers.gif]
another strong in demand from Graubünden is Donatsch;

Thomas Donatsch was not only the first to – then illegally – plant Chardonnay in 1975, but also the first to introduce French barriques to Switzerland, influenced by his vigneron friend André Noblet…

Very well put.

I’ve been fortunate to have had them several times at IPNC. Most excellent wines, though I did not find them similar to Burgundy. They are very much their own expression, and age very, very well.