(Continued from “The Standard-Bearers of Württemberg III” on 4 August 2017)
Amongst Germany’s 13 wine regions, Württemberg has a particularly diverse portfolio of grape varieties, contrasting with Rheingau and Mosel, wherein Riesling constitutes nearly 80% and 60% of hectarage. In the Ländle, the old-time favourite Trollinger – with a decreasing trend – is the only variety exceeding the 20% mark, followed by Riesling (18%), Lemberger (Blaufränkisch; 14%) and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir; 11%). The trio, alongside Chardonnay, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), are responsible for the majority of Württemberg’s fine wines.
Also known as Blaufränkisch in Austria, Lemberger was first documented there in the 18th century, and is the key red variety in Burgenland and Württemberg. Black-skinned and intensely pigmented, Lemberger is early-budding but late-ripening, requires warmth and is prone to powdery and downy mildews. Not an easy variety to work with, but given care, the result can be rewarding, as Lemberger boasts high acidity, complex phenolics, terroir-expressiveness, oak affinity and stylistic versatility, indeed the prerequisites for any outstanding variety and great wine.
Endowed with a diverse range of soil types including shell-limestone, keuper, marl, loess and clay, Lemberger and Spätburgunder are respectively the Wagnerian and coloratura sopranos of Württemberg reds. That Württemberg’s Lemberger remains a well-kept secret has to do with the fact that much of Württemberg wine is consumed by its affluent and loyal locals, leaving precious little for export, so much so that an old joke has it that winemakers would consider sales to Frankfurt as export.
Weingut Kistenmacher & Hengerer and Weingut Rainer Wachtstetter are the relatively new members of the VDP Württemberg chapter, admitted in 2013 and 2009 respectively. With Hans Hengerer and Rainer Wachtstetter at the helm, the two quality-driven, boutique estates have been growing from strength to strength, producing some of the finest Rieslings and Lembergers in Württemberg. Their pious characters are as such that praising their wines in front of them could make them blush.
To be continued…
Kistenmacher & Hengerer Heilbronner Stiftsberg Weißer Riesling Trocken VDP EL 2015
Radiant citrine with iridescent golden reflex, the majestic nose exudes peach pit, Alpine herbs, balsam, crushed rock and white tulip. Bolstered by abundant acidity and stern minerality, the profound palate oozes lime pith, mint, white pepper, rock salt and lemon blossom. Full-bodied at an unobtrusive 14.5%, the imposing entry carries onto a chiselled mid-palate, leading to a protracted finish. An equestrian marble statue of a Riesling, truly breathtaking, rivals the elites from Alsace, Rheingau and Wachau.
Wachtstetter Pfaffenhofener Hohenberg “Ernst Combé” Lemberger Trocken VDP EL 2013
Named after the founder of the estate and grandfather of Rainer. Macerated for 16 days, matured for 22 months in barriques (15% new) and bottled unfiltered. Dark garnet with carmine-rosewood rim, the perfumed nose presents damson, prune, clove, cocoa and sandalwood. Buttressed by generous acidity, tasty tannins and rich minerality, the lavish palate delivers black cherry, cassis, black pepper, tobacco and cigar box. Full-bodied at 13%, the toothsome entry continues through a richly spiced mid-palate, leading to a moreish finish. Hedonism and gluttony in a bottle.
Kistenmacher & Hengerer Heilbronner Wartberg “Sonnenstrahl” Weißer Riesling Trocken VDP GG 2014
Lustrous citrine with shimmring golden reflex, the intricate nose reveals comice pear, white peach, garden herbs, crushed rock and frangipane. Supported by brisk acidity and firm minerality, the poised palate furnishes bergamot, calamansi, crushed leaf, rock salt and daffodil. Medium-full bodied at 12.5%, the guarded entry evolves into an elaborate mid-palate, leading to a pristine finish. What a difference a year makes: 2015 was a notably warm vintage, whereas 2014 a remarkably cool one.
Wachtstetter Pfaffenhofener Hohenberg “Glaukós” Lemberger Trocken VDP GG 2011
Named after glauconite, a mica-like mineral, presumably for its high concentration in the vineyard. Reddish black with carmine-rosewood rim, the scented nose offers prune, juniper, bay leaf, liquorice and game. Anchored by bounteous acidity, ripe tannins and palpable minerality, the harmonious palate provides damson, cassis, dark chocolate, black coffee and sous bois. Medium-full bodied at 14%, the dense entry persists through a brooding mid-palate, leading to a smoky finish. An authoritative, masculine expression of Lemberger.
Tasted at Weingut Kistenmacher & Hengerer (W: www.kistenmacher-hengerer.de; E: email@example.com) and Weingut Rainer Wachtstetter (W: www.wachtstetter.de; E: firstname.lastname@example.org) 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).
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.