One of Germany’s 16 Federal States, Baden-Württemberg covers some 35,750 sqkm and has a total population of just under 11 million. If Baden-Württemberg were an independent country within the EU, it would be joint 10th most populous – on a par with Greece – or 10th largest by nominal GDP, ahead of Sweden (pre-Brexit rankings).
Steeped in history and tradition, Baden-Württemberg is however a modern polity, established only in 1952, when the three post-WWII states of Württemberg-Baden (capital: Stuttgart), Württemberg-Hohenzollern (capital: Tübingen) and Südbaden (capital: Freiburg im Breisgau) merged into one. As is often the case, wine maps tend to deviate from politico-administrative boundaries; particularly so in Germany, where federalism has historically been the norm.
Baden and Württemberg are two separate wine regions. With some 11,500ha of vineyards, Württemberg is the fourth largest of Germany’s 13 wine regions, trailing Rheinhessen, Pfalz and its twin sibling Baden. Württemberg is notably one of Germany’s only two wine regions – the other being Ahr – which produce more red than white wine, at a ratio of 70:30 and 85:15 respectively. Latitudinally on a par with Champagne, Württemberg is perhaps the warmest region of Germany. Caveat: claiming the “warmest” title is a regional sport in southern Germany, and Baden would likely dispute this.
In the beginning was the House of Württemberg, which so named the region. Established in 1081, the House of Württemberg is one of the most illustrious in Europe, having ruled its namesake region almost uninterruptedly until 1918, when the monarchy was abolished in Germany. Such dynastic continuity is rare, and the only other example would be the Imperial House of Japan. To this day, the three black antlers motif of the House of Württemberg’s blazon still adorns the coats of arms of Baden-Württemberg and Porsche. Hang on, is the Porsche family monarchist?
Weingut Herzog von Württemberg’s viticultural and winemaking history can be traced back to at least 1289; 1677 was the year in which Hofkammerkellerei (court chamber cellar) was established. Its 43ha of prime vineyards were acquired through the 17th to 19th centuries, and the estate has been a VDP member since 1986. In charge of the estate is HRH Michael Duke of Württemberg, whose dignified and urbane manners are embodied in his wines.
To be continued…
Translucent citrine with shimmering golden reflex, the scented nose offers key lime, Japanese pear, verbena and crushed rock. Braced by copious acidity and firm minerality, the vigorous palate delivers calamansi, green apple, citronella and rock salt. Medium-bodied at 13 percent, the composed entry continues through a balanced mid-palate, leading to a minerally finish. Literally “Bread Water of Stetten”, the vineyard is a monopole of the ducal house.
Limpid citrine with pale golden reflex, the mineral-rich nose reveals whitecurrant, quince, paperwhite and crushed rock. Underpinned by bounteous acidity and concentrated minerality, the pristine palate furnishes cloudberry, honeydew melon, white tulip and rock salt. Medium-full bodied at 13.5 percent, the stony entry persists through a refined mid-palate, leading to a saline finish. The vineyard was first cultivated by Cistercian monks from the 12th century Maulbronn Monastery, one of Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Legend has it that some perennially thirsty monks wanted to drink wine during Lent, but the abbot would allow them only to dip their fingers into the nectar and lick them. The wine was so good that one monk exclaimed that having an 11th finger would be great, hence the curious name, literally “Mt. Eleven Fingers”. The Clos de Vougeot of German Pinot Blanc?
Rich garnet with cardinal-carmine rim, the aromatic nose effuses elderberry, damson, tobacco leaf, cocoa and graphite. Buttressed by generous acidity, ripe tannins and palpable minerality, the dense palate emanates blackberry, prune, allspice, roasted coffee and tar. Full-bodied at merely 12.5 percent, the sturdy entry evolves into a melodious mid-palate, leading to a lingering finish. Stuttgart’s Untertürkheim district is home to numerous Erste Lage and Große Lage vineyards. Literally “Monk’s Hill of Untertürkheim”, the vineyard is one of the most ancient possessions of the ducal house.
The wines were tasted at Seeschloss Monrepos, in the presence of HRH Michael Duke of Württemberg, during a press trip organised by Mrs Diana Maisenhölder (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Mr Dietmar Maisenhölder (email@example.com) of VDP Württemberg (www.vdp-wuerttemberg.de). Weingut Herzog von Württemberg – W: www.weingut-wuerttemberg.de; E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.