The Ortenau is a distinct sub-region of Baden, centered around the ancient mid-sized town of Offenburg. The predominant soil-types here are granitic, with high sandstone outcroppings and loess. This estate has a fascinating history dating back to 1300. It is one of a handful of great German estates, such as the Juliusspital in Franken and the Vereinigte Hospitien in the Mosel, that are publicly owned – in this case by the municipality of Offenburg. Run with fastidious care by the young and dynamic Matthias Wolf, the vineyards are cultivated sustainably (think feromonal inteference instead of insecticides, organic fertilisation and composting). We have selected an initial range of wines that nicely highlight the possibilities here, which are myriad!
In truth, we felt a little guilty buying this wine, because they only bottle it for the local restaurant trade, which really likes its liter bottles. But it is such a perfect representation of what Baden can do with this chameleon grape that we swallowed our embarrassment and ordered it. Is it not mysterious that Alsace, which lies but a few miles to the west and at the same latitude as Baden, has largely lost the secret of making wines like this? Insinuatingly lovely nose, slightly nutty, with a juicy, crisp palate, just 12% alcohol and nary a hint of residual sweetness.
The Ortenau makes so special style of Riesling that they even give it its own name, Klingelberger, used nowhere else in Germany. Uniquely in Baden, a significant proportion of the vineyard area is dedicated to the Queen of Grapes. When you savour the suave, honied, yet vibrant style of this wine (just 11.5% alcohol and 7.2 gm. of acidity), you will understand why. Be among the first to champion this singular expression of Riesling with its long salty tail.
Knowing that the established Burg Ravensburg Riesling would sell out before the new vintage arrived, we did not hesitate to offer Heitlinger’s equally compelling rendition as an alternative. Similarly styled but differentiated by a more succulent and exotic fruit tone. These two make a remarkable one-two punch.
The exceptional quality of 2013 as a Pinot Noir vintage in Baden is exemplified by this show-stopper, that delivers way above its modest Kabinett designation (it has 13% of natural alcohol!). Everything is in just measure : the cool, green-tinged scent that is so regionally typical, plenty of velvety sweet Pinot fruit and then an insane cascade of tumbling stoniness in the finish. Remarkable.