Two Bottles Wachtstetter

We drink two varieties of Lemberger from the Wachtstetter winery: a white-pressed sparkling wine and a bottle of Pfaffenhofer Hohenberg Erste Lage 2018.

Somehow I felt like drinking a bit through Württemberg again. After all, the most beautiful wine-growing region of this country cannot be in the spotlight enough. And to be fair, it only does so to a very limited extent in the rest of the wine world, even though there has been a lot of movement here in recent years. The Junges Schwaben (young swabia) initiative of vintners Hans Hengerer, Jürgen Zipf, Sven Ellwanger, Rainer Wachtstetter and Jochen Beurer has certainly played a small part in this. Each of the five fills a wine under the joint label Junges Schwaben. We had a matured Sauvignon Blanc from the Bernhard Ellwanger winery almost three years ago in the glass already. Absolutely crazy how fast time flies. Not only here in the blog, but also with the winemakers themselves, who are now rather young-at-heart than young Swabia. They did just celebrate the 22-year anniversary of the group. But age doesn’t matter. Today we are drinking the representative from the Wachtstetter winery, a 2018 Lemberger from the Pfaffenhofer Hohenberg, which is classified by the VDP as Erste Lage. The vines grow there on reed sandstone and gypsum keuper and the wine is aged in barrique with about 30% new barrels for almost two years after the mash fermentation. And out of the urge to always try new things, there’s a bottle of white-pressed Lemberger Brut as the bubble version from 2019, which is aged in used barrique barrels before going to bottle for traditional bottle fermentation. I can’t remember ever drinking Lemberger bubbly and I’m excited.

And of course, that’s exactly what we start with. The wine smells distinctly yeasty, stout and like bread. The fruit remains in the background, it smells of pear and a few red berries. In the mouth, there’s quince and a good amount of structure. The acidity is noticeable, but on the more subtle side. If you’re into laser acidity in sparkling wine, you won’t be happy here, but you probably won’t drink a Lemberg sparkler anyway. So that doesn’t matter. I find that the sparkling wine comes across as extremely vinous and is very easy-drinking. It’s uncomplicated yet serious and then with more air develops the red fruit even more clearly. Where this works enormously well is in accompaniment to Kässpätzle. The better variant of Mac’n’Cheese. There the wine develops an unimagined pull and power. You certainly don’t have to make a sparkling wine out of Lemberger, but if you do it the way the Wachtstetters do here, you’re welcome to it. I’ll be buying this again.

My basic position of disapproval of small stickers above the label of wine bottles has not changed. In fact, the little Junges Schwaben sticker is just on the border to be quirky enough that I find it more charming than unpleasant, but just barely on the border. The content doesn’t care anyway. The Lemberger is tremendously spicy, dark and smells of wood and leather. Again, the fruit is rather subtle, if then there are very dark berries to be sensed in the background, mixed with a marzipan potato only without the sweetness. This is from the first moment on smelling really intense and it transported that also towards the tongue. There is first more acidity than I would have expected and also with more fruit than the nose had announced. The sour cherry is then replaced by clearly noticeable tannin. The tannin is integrated enough to keep the pelty feeling on the cheeks within bounds, but at the back of the tongue it makes itself felt. There is resistance in the wine and I like that.

Overnight, this resistance grinds away a bit. The nose has become much softer and more open. The fruit is more there and everything is harmoniously juxtaposed. There are chokeberries, cherries and a bit of smoke. On the tongue, freshness now reigns supreme and the wine has really developed zip. This all still seems super fresh and young and is guaranteed to gain quite a while in the cellar. Sticker on the bottle or not, this is great.

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