I am delighted to be able to offer the fascinating range of high-altitude (over 1100m above sea level) wines from Mario Chanton, who is based in Visp in the Haut Valais. Chanton is the 4th generation of this family to run this estate since his father, Josef-Marie, retired to look after customer contacts.
Josef-Marie had almost single-handedly revived almost extinct varietals such as Himbertscha, Lafnetscha, Eyholzer Roter and Gwass (a synonym for Gouais Blanc) on a commercial level. Today Chanton courageously produces a range of extremely pure wines based nearly exclusively on just such obscure local varietals, plus a few more such as Resi and of course our old Valaisan friend the amazing Heida, in several versions. These are rare wines of historic significance and Chanton plays a significant role in preserving them for future generations. This is possibly the most fascinating range of wines in my entire list.
Creative, courageous and with extraordinary talent, the Chantons have been growing grapes since 1944 and are now in their third generation of unique varietals. Towards the end of the 1970's Josef-Marie Chanton, son of company founder Oskar, brought Lafnetscha back to life. During the 1980's he vinified with Himbertscha, Gwäss and later with the Eyholzer Red and Plantscher - four more forgotten varieties. A pioneering effort and a talent that lives on in the family business and characterises his son Mario's individual Chanton philosophy and knowledge of wine.
The poularity of these rare varieties has meant that demand has been so high that Chanton have had to grow more. The only native born Valais grape, Lafnetscha, is the big seller among the rare varieties. Since we know that one of the a parent grapes of Lafnetscha was certainly growing in Valais before the Walser migration, they are even more pleased. Lafnetscha is a grape with strong local roots in the Upper Valais.
Lafnetscha and Himbertscha are half-siblings but they share the Humagne Blanche as a parent. Himbertscha probably came from a Muscat which no longer exists among the 60 Muscat varieties currently grow around the world.
Resi is known in the Val d'Anniviers as Vin de Glacier where it matures in larch wood barrels. Its ancestry goes back to Trentino where its parent Nosiola grows. This grape was and still is used to create the wonderful and sweet sacramental wine of ancient times, "Vin Santo". The name Santo was used because the grapes were dried on straw and then pressed during "settimana santa" (Holy Week). A sweet temptation - the monks and priests always know what is fine!
The Eyholzer Roter comes from the Aosta Valley where it has grown for a long time. Its parentage is not yet fully understood.