(Continued from “The Standard- Bearers of Württemberg” on June 9 2017)
Affectionately referred to by locals as the Ländle (literally: Little Land), Swabia (Schwaben) is a historic, cultural and linguistic region of Germany. Although often used interchangeably, Swabia and Württemberg are not one and the same: not all of Württemberg is Swabia, and not all of Swabia is in Württemberg; the eastern part of Swabia lies in Bavaria (Bayern), forming one of its seven administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke).
Swabia is not a de jure administrative region, hence the lack of a clearly defined boundary, which is largely equivalent to the powerful Swabian Circle of the Holy Roman Empire. The name Swabia derived from the Duchy of Swabia, one of the constituent duchies of the medieval Kingdom of Germany, formerly East Francia, a successor state of the Carolingian Empire. West Francia, another successor state, would become the Kingdom of France. Swabia is, therefore, as old as Germany itself, however crude the notion was.
With certain exceptions, the vast majority of Württemberg’s vine plantation and wine production is in Swabia. The Germanic tribes were (in)famous for their drinking prowess, impressing even their mortal enemies the Romans, but it was largely beer and mead that they drank. Viticulture and winemaking in the region, as elsewhere along Limes Germanicus e.g. modern-day Mosel and Rheingau, were introduced and propagated by the Romans.
Nahe is unique in possessing a kaleidoscopic range of soil compositions comprising the entire rock cycle, but Württemberg has its own arsenal of diverse terroirs. Situated in the heart of Württemberg and indeed Swabia, Remstal (literally: Ram’s Valley) is home to numerous organic and biodynamic estates. Located merely 20km east of Stuttgart, the tiny municipality of Kernen-Stetten alone has two VDP estates: the organic Weingut Karl Haidle and the biodynamic Weingut Beurer. Whereas father and son Hans and Moritz Haidle passionately curate an extensive portfolio of vines and wines from the historic Y-Burg, the no-frills and no-nonsense Jochen Beurer is taking varieties and terroirs to unchartered waters with astonishing results.
Grown on Schilfsandstein (reed sandstone) and cool-fermented in stainless steel vats. Limpid citrine with pastel golden reflex, the affable nose offers bergamot, mirabelle, wet stone and pear blossom. Supported by energetic acidity and clear minerality, the vibrant palate delivers kumquat, pineapple, crushed rock and citrus blossom. Medium-bodied at 13 percent, the brisk entry carries onto a stony mid-palate, leading to a saline finish. A breath of fresh air, perfect for the sultry summer in Asia.
From old vines grown on Kieselsandstein (siliceous limestone), vinified with ambient yeast in stainless steel tanks and matured on lees for 12 months. Translucent citrine with bright sunshine reflex, the pristine nose reveals pomelo peel, grapefruit, wet stone and paperwhite. Underpinned by vivacious acidity and substantial minerality, the laser-focused palate furnishes lime peel, lemon, seashells and crushed leaf. Medium-full bodied at 12 percent, the citrusy entry continues through an animated mid-palate, leading to a cleansing finish. An exhilarating Ortswein that punches well above its weight.
Grown on Gipskeuper (gypsum keuper) and patiently matured in both new and neutral barriques for 24 months. Reddish black with rosewood-Tyrian purple rim, the Herculean nose provides black cherry, damson, bay leaf, dark chocolate and graphite. Buttressed by abundant acidity, tasty tannins and structured minerality, the formidable palate supplies prune, black olive, black pepper, caffè ristretto and leather. Full-bodied at 14 percent, the brooding entry evolves into a gamey mid-palate, leading to a smoky finish. A showcase for the stature of Lemberger (Blaufränkisch).
Also grown on Kieselsandstein, vinified with ambient yeast in stainless steel tanks and matured on lees for 12 months. Saturated citrine with luminous golden reflex, the vigorous nose effuses lemon, mirabelle, crushed rock and apple blossom. Braced by profuse acidity and concentrated minerality, the chiselled palate emanates apricot, pineapple, sweet ginger and garden herbs. Full-bodied at merely 12.5 percent, the mineral-rich (or -locked?) entry develops into a stirring mid-palate, leading to an indelible finish. Extraordinary minerality, akin to liquid rock in a glass. Jacky I. F. Cheong
The wines were tasted at Weingut Karl Haidle (W: weingut-karl-haidle.de; E: email@example.com) and Weingut Beurer (W: weingut-beurer.de; E: firstname.lastname@example.org) respectively, during a press trip organised by Mrs Diana Maisenhölder (email@example.com) and Mr Dietmar Maisenhölder (firstname.lastname@example.org) of VDP Württemberg (www.vdp-wuerttemberg.de)
To be continued…
Jacky I. F. Cheong is a legal professional and columnist. Having spent his formative years in Britain,
France and Germany, he regularly comments on wine, fine arts, classical music and opera.