Under the same ownership as another of our Baden producers – Heitlinger – we are indescribably happy to have partnered with this dynamic pair of estates. They are geographically separate and with different terroirs and histories. Our success with them has encouraged us to add five additional Baden estates to our portfolio.
This pair of producers have very different histories. Burg Ravensburg, in the village of Sulzfeld, north-west of Stuttgart and not far from the fabled university town of Heidelberg in the extreme north of Baden, has a documented history going back to 1251, making it one of Germany’s oldest estates. Owner Heinz Heiler had the great wisdom to hire as his General Manager a man called Claus Burmeister, who actually grew up on the Burg Ravensburg estate and is utterly steeped in the region. Soft-spoken but intense, Claus has lifted his two estates to the absolute summit of Baden wines, enjoying a degree of success in the press and at wine competitions without compare. They own 80% of the vineyards entitled to Grosses Gewächs status in the Kraichgau and Claus displays a mastery of different idioms that is quite remarkable.
“Fat Franz” was Baron Franz Göler of Ravensburg, a renowned 18th century gourmand. An image in sharp contrast to this strikingly fine and intense wine, stripped of all needless weight but brimful of power and spice.
The locals take a special delight in this characterful grape, which expresses itself differently here from Austria (though there is a certain affinity with the iron-rich wines of Mittelburgenland). This example has an almost exotic, Oriental spice aroma, but is much more mannerly on the palate, where its velvety fruit is braced by an intriguing green note before finishing with a resounding mineral roll. As good a “basic” Blaufränkisch as money can buy, in our opinion.
Lemberger, as Blaufränkisch is known in Baden, produces a higher-toned, perhaps finer wine than is typical of the better-known Burgenland examples. Claus has always had an especially deft touch with this truculent grape. Bottle age has done it nothing but good and this is sinmply delicious.
Löchle is the top Pinot Noir cru of Sulzfeld, offering wines of density and force. This makes an excellent claim for Burg Ravensburg’s status as the district’s leading light. Years of life ahead of it.
In Germany, Baden is considered the prime source of Pinot Noir, and it is the region’s most widely-planted grape, thriving especially well in the mineral-rich clay-and-limestone soils of the Kraichgau. Our initial shipment of this nicely coloured and unexaggerated wine quickly sold out. It is predictably stylish and honest, with well-judged oak tones and a salty tail.
The distinctive soil-type of the Kraichgau is “Keuper”, a red-coloured, iron-rich clay and limestone conglomerate that seems tailor-made for what might reasonably be termed a “burgundian” style. This nicely coloured and unexaggerated wine has been a success from Day One. It is predictably stylish and honest, with well-judged oak tones and a salty tail.
Athough Baden is especially well known for the “burgundy” varieties, Riesling (or Klingelberger as it is often called in these parts) has a knack for butting in and showing everyone who is boss. This is as clear-toned and mouth-filling an example of dry Riesling as you could hope for at this price echelon, with a real sheen of class. In 2013 the wine sold out in four months at the winery.