(Continued from “The Standard-Bearers of Württemberg V” on 8 December 2017)
Amongst Germany’s 13 wine regions, Württemberg stands out as an anomaly on two counts. First, it is one of the only two – the other being Ahr – that produces more reds than whites. Second, it possesses a particularly diverse portfolio of grape varieties – rivaled only by Rheinhessen – in a country where prestige historically tends to equate to Riesling concentration, e.g. in Rheingau (just under 80%) and Mosel (approximately 60%).
Notwithstanding variations, this vinous kaleidoscope generally holds true across the board in Württemberg, from local cooperatives, family-owned estates to elite VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter) member-estates. As per Deutsche Weininstitut statistics, noble varieties such as Riesling (18.7%), Lemberger (15.2%) and Pinot Noir (11.6%) in Württemberg, even when combined, still fall short of majority in hectarage.
Since the turn of the millennium, the Pinot family has been on a meteoric rise in Germany. From 2000 to 2016, Pinots Gris and Blanc have seen a surge of 113.1% and 99% respectively in hectarage, turning the country into the world’s third largest and single largest producer of the former and latter respectively. Whereas Alsace has a Grand Cru appellation for Pinot Gris, VDP Württemberg has both Großes Gewächs and Erste Lage for Pinots Gris and Blanc. All the while, Chardonnay is no longer a novelty, with a whopping 208.9% surge in hectarage.
Be it a technological advancement or vinous innovation, Württemberg remains at the forefront in Germany. With a wide array of terroirs ranging from shell-limestone, keuper, marl and loess to clay as well as climatic conditions, resulting in 200+ Einzellagen (single vineyards) for its extensive portfolio of grape varieties, Württemberg is a strong candidate for the title “Germany’s most dynamic region”. While its “first triumvirate” of Riesling, Lemberger and Pinot Noir continue to reach new heights, a “second triumvirate” comprising Chardonnay, Pinots Gris and Blanc is taking shape. The old-time favourite Trollinger, in the meantime, is breathing new life.
Situated in Beilstein, Heilbronn, the 14ha Schloßgut Hohenbeilstein has been a VDP member-estate since 1973, and went fully organic in 1987, when the movement was derided as pseudoscience. Winemaker Joscha Dippon is never afraid to innovate, but is visibly less comfortable with receiving compliments for his wines full of purity and vitality. Located in Bönnigheim, Ludwigsburg, the 12ha Weingut Dautel has the luxury of spaciousness that urban estates around the Stuttgart region lack. Equipped with a state-of-the-
art, meticulous cellar, winemaker Christian Dautel produces wines of remarkable focus and structure.
To be continued…
Tasted at Schloßgut Hohenbeilstein (W: www.schlossgut-hohenbeilstein.de; E: email@example.com) and Weingut Dautel (W: http://weingut-dautel.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).
Also known as Muscat Hamburg, Muskattrollinger is a red scion of the Muscat family. Coruscating ruby with gleaming carnelian reflex, the tutti-fruttii nose radiates raspberry, strawberry and rose. Anchored by neat acidity and crunchy tannins, the tantalising palate oozes cranberry, redcurrant and geranium. Medium-bodied at 12%, the adorable entry carries onto a vivacious mid-palate, leading to an appetising finish. Full of summery zest, a brilliant apéritif.
Luminous citrine with pastel golden reflex, the caressing nose presents apricot, Williams pear, green olive and jasmine. Supported by ample acidity and clean minerality, the rounded palate supplies loquat, nectarine, pine nuts and bouquet garni. Medium-full bodied at 13.5%, the fleshy entry persists through a structured mid-palate, leading to a creamy finish. A modern, well-made Pinot Blanc.
No typo here, Cabernet Blanc indeed, the offspring of Cabernet Sauvignon and a highly resistant variety. Limpid citrine with shimmering golden reflex, the pristine nose offers gooseberry, bell peppers and elderflower. Braced by racy acidity and clear minerality, the vibrant palate delivers cloudberry, whitecurrant and nettle. Medium-bodied at 13%, the invigorating entry continues through a chiselled mid-palate, leading to a cleansing finish. An interesting variety, a token of Wurttembergian innovation.
Rich citrine with bright golden reflex, the aromatic nose reveals lemon, Anjou pear, thyme, pine nut and frangipane. Underpinned by generous acidity and saline minerality, the multifaceted palate dispenses green apple, mirabelle, almond, beeswax and seashells. Medium-full bodied at 13.5%, the precise entry evolves into a spiced mid-palate, leading to a melodious finish. A deliciously complex Chardonnay that rivals a fine Chassagne-Montrachet.
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France,
and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages