The SOMM Journal

December 2014/January 2015

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Despite its relative size and its being the HQ of Mercedes-Benz, Württemberg's wines are hardly known outside of Germany. Production is focused east of Stuttgart in the Rems Valley or north near Heilbronn. Strong regional demand minimizes the need to export, though "Württemberg Rieslings can hardly be compared with the Rhein's or Mosel's classics," according to Master Sommelier Frank Kämmer, born and bred here. "Württemberg's are broader, earthier and less fruity in style." Although Riesling is the most widely planted variety, Württemberg is better known for its many red varieties. 75% of production hails from cooperatives predominantly for simple quaffing wines, but in the last 20 years several private estates have turned to high-quality winemaking. Felix Adelmann is "evolving" his father's work beginning with the hiring of a new kellermeister who initiated fer- mentation experiments in 800l vats. "I'm not 'military dry'," Adelmann exclaimed indicating flexibility for "adding to the joy of drinking." Felix loves and has experimented with Sangiovese, but concluded that it doesn't comply with his philosophy in "making really great, authentic red wines with traditional varieties." His two 'great' vineyards are Süssmond and the Oberer Berg. The estate is renowned for a bi-annual summer music festival, but Felix has set his eyes west for exports. "I've gone to the U.S. a few times to learn the Western states." (Not imported.) In 2006 Markus Drautz stepped into his parents' Drautz- Able business when politician father Richard became Württemberg's economy minister, having since reduced the emphasis on technology allowing for more whole-bunch fer- mentation, must settling on its own, less new oak and filtering. He's convinced for the ability of his Merlot to ripen effectively, exhibited in their top red, Jodokus. Half Merlot, it's elegant on the nose and palate showing deep earth, black fruit with a lingering finish. With the carrot-ginger soup prepared by his mother Monika I savored their Sauvignon Blanc, aged in oak, charming with its white fruit nose and palate, complex flavors of herbs, elderberry, and oak kept onto a moderately long fin- ish. (Imported by Northwest Wines in OR.) Christian Dautel worked stints around the world before returning to his family's Bönnigheim estate in 2010. He and father Ernst share tasks equally though son expects his father to step back in a year or so. "It'd be stupid of me to make the same mistakes my father made, but he has many things to add, allowing us to share in progress- ing our wines." Christian in 2009 ceased adding yeasts to his Chardonnay, doing so only when necessary with other wines, using barriques only for wines's first year. I enjoyed his Grübenstein Riesling, Weissburgunder, and 'S' series Chardonnay and Lemberger. (Not imported.) Biodynamic-certified since 2012, accepted into the VDP in 2013, Jochen Beurer eschews yeasts in the interest of slow fermentations adding only sulfur—no eggs, no gelatin, no isinglass—so his wines are also vegan-friendly. "We have all we need for good wine occurring naturally in the vineyard," he said with relaxed confidence. His line of dry Rieslings are among Württemberg's most consistent, with my nod lately going to his Stubensandstein (now comprising the base for his branded "Junge Schwaben") and Kieselsandstein, along with his 15-month-fermented Grauburgunder. (Imported by Selection Massale in CA.) Assuming control of his father's Fellbach vineyards in time to launch with the momentous 1997 vintage, my friend Rainer Schnaitmann says, "Wine quality here was overall far worse when I began, so it was difficult to achieve recognition as a new producer. I'm no longer the newcomer, but it's still impor- tant to question what is happening around you," quipped the insightful vintner who still considers Berlin a type of export market. Best-sellers are his Evoé! Rosé and the region's flagship Trollinger. My recent faves from his estimable port- folio: Lembergers Estate and Simonroth, and the Simonroth Spätburgunder—serious wines, all of which benefit from medium-term aging. (Imported by Wiest Selections in CA.) Württemberg's VDP President, Gerd Aldinger, with sons Hans and Matthias, grows 20 varieties upon 67 acres. As with many of the younger generation, the sons trumpet minimiza- tion of such techniques as racking, pumping, acidification and filtration before bottling. They're mashing grapes within a vineyard to ensure vineyard yeasts prevail over those in the winery for vinification. During my latest visit we tasted his Sauvignon Blanc "Ovum," vinified in a concrete egg, displaying a funky reduced yeast note on the nose, great complexity, balance and length on the palate. With many wines to choose from, my faves include their Marienglas Untertürkheimer Gips Riesling with no added yeasts, what they claim is Germany's first Grüner Veltliner, from the 2012 vintage, and the Hanweiler Berg Lemberger **, which under- went a long whole-berry fermentation. (Not imported.) The accompanying pic, taken at ProWein, has me sporting my former traditional winter growth alongside many of the folks mentioned above. Thanks, TSJ reader, for taking a glimpse into the people and wines of my sometime ex-U.S. home. Cheers, David Furer { postcard } 12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2014/2015

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