Gubler's 2020 Pilgrim Pinot Noir is deep and elegant yet rather discreet in its spicy and slightly flinty fruit aromas. Silky, fresh and elegant on the palate, this is a full-bodied, lush and refined Pinot with intense and ripe (sweet) fruit, remarkably fine and integrated tannins and a long and tensioned, crunchy finish. Year in, year out, Pilgrim is one of the most reliable and authentic Pinots of the Herrschaft. 13% stated alcohol. Diam cork stopper. Tasted at the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz, February 2023.
From 35-year-old vines in the Maienfeld Stellibofel cru and bottled exclusively in magnums, Gubler's 2020 Magnus Pinot Noir opens with a clear, fresh, refined yet deep and intense, very elegant and pretty Burgundian nose with flinty and coolish schist aromas that represent a remarkable terroir at 600 meters in altitude. It's really exciting in its naturalness. Silky, round, fresh and pure on the palate, this is a full-bodied, elegant and refreshing Pinot with still-tight and spicy tannins that intermingle with the characteristic saline mineral freshness of this young but substantial and potent Pinot. Still a bit brittle on the finish, this is a serious wine that will be a great discovery in 10 and more years. 13% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted at the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz, February 2023.
From a steep vineyard on Jurassic limestone soils in the countryside around the city of Basel, the 2020 Clos Martha Pinot Noir displays a medium-dark ruby color and opens with a bit reductive, slightly iodine-like, yet most of all spicy, cherry-driven, rather fruity than—initially— exciting bouquet that shows some toasty and oaky notes. However, after a day, the wine components come better together and form a unity of perfectly ripe and concentrated fruit. Dense, lush and round on the palate, this is a mouth-filling, fleshy, refined and elegant, more tannic and spicy Pinot compared to the twins from Graubünden. The finish is tart but aromatic and juicy, firm and powerful, yet it doesn't reach the finesse of Maienfeld at this stage. Its class comes from concentration and savoriness. 13% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted at the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz, February 2023.
The 2019 Pinot Noir Pilgrim mainly originates from altitudes between 580 and 600 meters above sea level around the municipality of Maienfeld. The rather floral and less focused red fruit (cherry) bouquet represents old Swiss Pinot clones whose vines are 30 to 40 years old. Fermented in an open wooden vat with 30% whole clusters and aged for 16 months in Burgundy barrels, this youngest release is full-bodied, lush, round and very elegant on the palate, with a silky texture, good freshness and a juicy-saline finish, where the tannins are more robust but gastronomically valuable. A generous, round and lush Swiss classic, if you will. Total production is about 10,000 bottles. 13% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted in Zurich in February 2022.
The 2019 Pinot Noir Clos Martha is from Jurassic limestone soils with just one meter of topsoil in a steep, strictly south-facing vineyard above the municipality of Maisprach in the Basel countryside. Fermented in open wooden vats and aged in 228-liter Burgundy barrels for 16 months, the 2019 shows a clear, pure, fresh and spicy bouquet of cherries and dark berries intertwined with chalky notes and the freshness and spiciness of a maceration with whole clusters. Silky and juicy on the palate, this is a highly stimulating and fleshy, very elegant and refined Basel Pinot with structure, salt and tension. This is a characterful and grippy Pinot that should be cellared for another two years. This is definitely the finest Clos Martha I have tasted so far. Production is about 1,200 bottles. 13.5% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted in Zurich in February 2022.
The Maienfeld 2018 Pinot Noir Magnus comes from the two-hectare monopole named Stellibofel, which is located 600 meters above sea level. From pure Swiss clones that are 30 years old, this was fermented with about 50% whole clusters in an open wooden vat and aged in Burgundy barrels for 20 months. The 2018 ended up bone dry with less than 0.5 grams per liter of residual sweetness and still moderate 13.5% alcohol. Tasted from the magnum bottle, the wine shows a terrifically refined but intense and concentrated bouquet of ripe cherries, dried cherry skins, floral aromas and a very delicate terroir note of crushed or finely milled stones. One of the fascinating 2018 Pinot Noirs from Switzerland. Production is 1,350 bottles, exclusively magnums. Thank goodness! Tasted in Zurich in February 2022.
Aged in barrels for 18 months and exclusively bottled in 150 magnums, the 2018 Clos Martha Pinot Noir (18 Months) from Maisprach in Basel offers a deep, intense and generous, sweet and rich but also elegant and refined bouquet of perfectly ripe dark berries, cherries, nougat and toast as well as iodine notes. It's fascinating in its intensity, richness and purity. Full-bodied, elegant and juicy on the palate, this is a generous but refined and refreshing Pinot with a tight tannin structure keeping this powerful and concentrated wine in tension. The texture, however, is remarkably finessed and elegant, and the saline and lemon freshness give a really different finish compared to the Pinots from Maienfeld in Graubünden. 14% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted at the Grand Resort in Bad Ragaz, February 2023.
The 2017 Maienfeld Pinot Noir Magnus offers a deep, pure, intense and slightly toasty yet fresh and serious bouquet of red fruits with peppery and earthy aromas. Full-bodied, pure, fresh and vivacious on the palate, this is a generous and fleshy but tensioned Pinot that has grip but lacks some generosity and sex appeal at this stage. Somewhat too intellectual perhaps? The finish is a bit drying. Tasted from magnum in Zurich in December 2019.
The 2017 Maisprach Pinot Noir Clos Martha is deep, pure and intensely fruity on the nose. Full-bodied, intense and rich, with loads of tannins and a certain sweetness, this a tight and tensioned Pinot Noir from Basel's countryside. Tasted in Zurich in December 2019.
For obscure reasons, I have missed the 2015, but here is the gorgeous 2016 Maienfeld Pinot Noir Pilgrim from the famous Grisons (Graubünden) appellation! The nose combines purity and precision with ripeness and intensity in a very elegant and refined way. Dark, wild berry aromas along with flinty notes on the deep nose lead to a full-bodied, dense and persistent palate with remarkably vivacious acidity and mineral tension. The tannins are present but fine and structuring, whereas the finish is powerful, complex and very long. This is a great Swiss Pinot Noir that will even improve over the years. If you don't like to wait that long, you should definitely aerate the wine for a couple of hours, two or three at least. Its whole bunch grip might taste a bit wild today, but with age (or enough air) this will smooth out and give nothing but stimulating freshness. Be patient! Tasted in January 2019.
Produced since 2013 and sourced from 30-year-old vines from a single-vineyard site named Stellibofel—the top site for Matthias and Sina Gubler and located 600 meters above sea level (which allows a long and slow ripening process)—the Grison 2016 Maienfeld Pinot Noir Magnus opens with a noble, very elegant and complex, still smoky/toasty but very deep and terroir-driven bouquet of fine and coolish red fruits (cherries) intermixed with still yeasty and musty notes and some crystalline aromas. Foot-trodden, vinified in a wooden fermentor with 60% of whole bunches before aging in small oak for 18 months, the wine is still young on the round and juicy, silky-textured yet tightly woven palate but very fine, pure and elegant as well. The tannins are highly delicate and the acidity is fresh and stimulating and perfectly interwoven with the fruit, full body and mineral energy of this Swiss picture-book Pinot. The complex and grippy finish is long, fresh and mouthwateringly salty and keeps the finesse and balance until the very end. This 2016 is doubtlessly a great Alpine red wine with volume, finesse and energy, and it will develop very well in the magnums into which the complete production was filled in the spring of 2018. Release date: September 2019. Don't miss it! Tasted in January 2019.
From a steep, south-facing single vineyard with 30-year-old vines in the AOC Basel-Landschaft, the 2016 Maisprach Pinot Noir Clos Martha offers a deep, dense and concentrated bouquet of ripe dark and red fruits intermixed with toasty and smoky terroir aromas, a result of the distinctive shallow Jurassic limestone soils. On the palate, this is a firmly structured and concentrated Pinot with remarkable grip and freshness. Its stimulating, still slightly astringent and clove-flavored finish is long and intense and makes this 2016 one of the finest Pinots from the Eastern, German-speaking part of Switzerland. I don't know any other red wine from Basel that could compete with it in terms of style and quality. Tasted in January 2019.
From the AOC Basel-Landschaft and 50+-year-old vines on Jurassic limestone soils, the cherry colored 2016 Maisprach Pinot Noir Hubel indicates deep, ripe yet fresh and precise fruit of black berries, cherries and a hint of licorice intertwined with the purity of crushed stones, smoke, spices and toasted oak. Dense and intense on the silky-textured palate, this full-bodied red shows ripe and juicy fruit, fine tannins and a wonderfully dry and stimulating astringent finish with tightness and good length. Tasted January 2019.
The 2016 Maisprach Pinot Noir Graf is a firstling sourced from small, steep, south-facing 40- and 50-year-old parcels of the single-vineyard "Röti" in the upper Basel area that is roughly 400 meters above sea level and gets its name from the dark red, almost purple Buntsandstein (colored sandstone) soils. The vines are cultivated by Heini and Barbara Graf, whose family name on the label guarantees the high quality of the grapes which are processed (with 25% whole bunches and in a wooden fermentor) in the Gubler domaine in Maienfeld, Grisons. Aged for one year in French pièces, the wine displays a transparent red color and opens with a delicate, fresh and elegant bouquet of cherries, red currant and strawberries. On the palate, this is a medium-bodied but intense and juicy Pinot with remarkable finesse and freshness. It is rather lean, silky textured and wonderfully fruity, but in a subtle way, it is also concentrated and structured by very fine tannins and animating acidity. The finish shows red cherries and just-ripe blackberries, again along with some toasty/spicy flavors and the characteristic freshness. 13% alcohol. This should be a great wine with cooked or even stewed meat. Tasted January 2019.
The 2015 Maienfeld Pinot Noir Pilgrim is warm, intense, ripe, rich and complete on the nose with its pure but deep and perfectly ripe fruit. Lush, intense and slightly sweet on the palate, this is a full-bodied, powerful and tensioned red with a long, pure and persistently salty fish. It is very intense and powerful yet pure, tight, fresh and straight, with fine tannins, vivacious acidity and good length. This is a generous and tensioned wine full of salt and character. Tasted in Zurich in December 2019.
The 2015 Pinot Noir Clos Martha is lovely, aromatic and seductive yet pure and fresh on the nose, with flinty, ripe fruit and floral aromas. On the palate this is a powerful, intense and juicy but finely structured and vibrantly tensioned Pinot Noir with ripe fruit, stunning finesse and mineral purity on the powerful and persistent finish. This is really impressive and an outstanding wine from the Basel-Landschaft. Tasted in Zurich, August 2017.
The 2014 Pinot Noir Pilgrim opens with a beautifully pure, deep, fresh and intense bouquet with flinty and toasty aromas from the soils, skins, stems and oak. This dark colored Pinot Noir is a serious red wine, and it gets my attention in seconds. Full-bodied, round and elegant on the palate, with intense but well-articulated fruit, this is a powerful and concentrated Pinot Noir with a silky texture, great complexity, tension, grip and persistence. Any hints of the suzuki fly here? Not at all. This Pinot Noir is just big and provided with a long and tensioned finish. One of the finest Pinot Noirs I have tasted from Graubünden from the 2014 vintage. Tasted in Zurich, August 2017.
The 2014 Pinot Noir Clos Martha is clear, fresh, concentrated and spicy on the nose where the oak is still prominent but also with pithy fruit flavors. The wine is dense, intense and powerful, tightly woven, still mealy in its tannins but very promising. Keep it at least for another three up to five years. "The grapes in the steep Clos Martha are picked up to two weeks later than those for the Hubel, which comes from the same slope," explains Matthias Gubler. "The situation in the steep vineyard is much more stressful for the vines and differences between the vintages come out much more prominently." Matthias adds 2014 to the more spicier and earthier vintages. 2019-2022
From 50-year-old vines on Jurassic chalk in Maisprach (AOC Basel-Landschaft), the 2014 Pinot Noir Hubel opens with an intense, concentrated and characterfully spicy bouquet with ripe but fresh fruit aromas of red berries, cherries and smoky/chalky flavors. Very clear, fresh and firm, but with a silky textured and finessed elegance on the palate, this is a straight and persistent Pinot Noir. It was fermented with natural yeasts for two weeks and aged in two Burgundian pièces of 228 liter size. This wine is very rare and almost always sold out. It is certainly not imported into the US. 2018-2022
Still young but full of potential for another decade is the 2013 Pinot Noir Clos Martha, a dense, supple, sweet and velvety textured red with cassis flavors. The wine is very fine, clear and pure on the palate, very elegant and finessed. But it is also refreshing, provided with grip and great tension. The finish is very long. 2019-2028
Gubler's 2013 Pinot Noir Hubel displays an intense but fine, fresh and spicy Pinot bouquet; it has a very finessed, fresh and elegant, light-footed palate of silky finesse and elegance. The wine has good concentration and is densely woven, but very fine thanks to the delicate but grippy tannins. The finish is well defined and compact, fresh, piquant and long. An excellent, even subtle Pinot Noir from the Basel-Landschaft AOC. 2017-2025
Gubler's dark 2012 Pinot Noir Pilgrim offers a noble, sweet and intense, mocha-dominated bouquet of very ripe and sweet dark berries along with some smoky and spicy aromas. Rich, sweet and round on the palate this is a powerful, silky textured, fresh and quite well balanced though not very finesse-full Pinot Noir. It emphasizes its big character by exposing ripe black berries, chocolate and distinctive tannins rather than through delicacy. Aged for 18 months in 60% new barriques the wine is juicy and very well made (with 40% of the stems) and the aging potential should be quite good here. Perhaps the unfined and unfiltered wine will be even more convincing after a couple of years of bottle age?
The 2012 Pinot Noir Clos Martha has an open and aromatic bouquet with Beetroot flavors. Pure and silky-elegant on the palate, this is a leaner style of Pinot compared to the 2013. There is a good berry fruit on the palate, as well as a good tannin structure. 2017-2022
Open, clear and aromatic on the nose starts the 2012 Pinot Noir Hubel, which indicates a nice freshness and good concentration of red berries. Rich and silky on the palate, with fine tannins and a fresh acidity, this is a very elegant style of Pinot with power, depth and length. Still young, but with potential to age for another eight to ten years. 2017-2020
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