Thursday, October 31, 2013

Weingut Wachtstetter in Wuerttemberg – A Profile, Germany

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and Rainer Wachtstetter, Weingut Wachtstetter inPfaffenberg, Wuerttemberg

I visited with the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim the Württemberg wine region for 2 days, including Weingut Wachtstetter in Pfaffenberg, which is one of the leading wine producers in the Württemberg wine region.

Touring (and Visiting 4 Wineries in) the Württemberg Wine Region (Zabergäu), Germany

Wine Region Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 German states that make up Germany. Baden-Wuerttemberg is one of the growth centers of Germany due to its booming export industries. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are prime examples. Baden-Württemberg comprises two wine growing areas, Baden and Württemberg.

Wine from Württemberg is mainly red wine. The main production area is along the Neckar River between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. There are also vineyards on Lake Constance that belong to Württemberg.

More wine is consumed here (per capita) than anywhere else in Germany - actually twice as much as in the rest of Germany. The German poet Friedrich von Schiller wrote already several centuries ago: “A Württemberger without wine--is that a real Württemberger?”

The Trollinger is the most popular variety, which is grown almost exclusively in Württemberg. It is a nice table wine that goes well with the local food. If you are looking for a premium wine, Lemberger (known as Blaufränkisch in Austria and Kékfrankos in its Hungarian homeland) is the grape variety to go for. The Lemberger made by Weingut Dautel and Weingut Wachstetter, which we had during the tour, can compete with the best red wines in the world.

Pictures: Weingut Wachtstetter

With 11,000 hectares under vine, Württemberg is Germany's fourth largest wine region. Winemaking cooperatives are very common in Württemberg, number around 70, and are responsible for almost 75% of the region's production.

Wines from Württemberg are hard to find in the US. This is partly explained by the production structure, which is dominated by co-operatives. These co-operatives are known for producing top class wines. But they tend to be less aggressive in terms of penetrating new markets.

Weingut Wachtstetter

Weingut Wachtstetter is in Pfaffenberg, right in the middle of the village. It is a traditional family operation, with 3 generations living under one roof and working together. Weingut Wachtstetter is in particular known for its premium Lembergers (known as Blaufränkisch in Austria and Kékfrankos in its Hungarian homeland).

Today, Rainer Wachtstetter is at the helm of Weingut Wachtstetter. He owns and runs the winery now in the 4th generation. It all started with Karl and Ernst Combé, the great-grandfather and the grandfather of Rainer. In particular Ernst left a strong impression on Rainer, which explains why one the Wachstetter product lines is called Ernst Combé line.

Pictures: Rainer Wachtstetter with Annette and Felix Wachtstetter

In 1979, Ernst Combé - with his son-in-law Roland and daughter Anni – decided to move their wine production by beginning to bottle and sell directly his wine. When Rainer Wachtstetter joint in 1987 the family winery at the age of 19, it was clear that he would push on in that direction. Indeed, since then, the vineyard area has expanded from 3 to 17 hectares and Weingut Wachtstetter has become one of the best red wine producers in Wuerttemberg, if not in Germany.

Rainer Wachtstetter

Rainer Wachtstetter is in charge of winemaking today. He has a degree of Weinbautechniker. His wife Annette looks after sales and the accounts, father Roland and mother Anni continue to help. Rainer and Annette have 3 children, Felix, Louis und Anna; Felix helped when we were there.

Picture: VDP Member Rainer Wachstetter

Rainer Wachtstetter is a founding member of the winemaker group Junges Schwaben; the group was awarded the ArtVinum Prize in 2010 as Europe’s Best Up-and-coming Winemakers. In 2009, Rainer Wachtstetter became a member of the VdP, the association of German elite winemakers.

Lemberger and Other Grape Varieties

The specialty of Weingut Wachtstetter is the Lemberger. Rainer Wachtstetter devotes 35% of the vineyard area to this grape variety. He definitely has become one of the best Lemberger producers in Württemberg.

Pictures: With Rainer Wachtstetter in the Wine Cellar

Stuart Pigott: “Yes, I know that you’re probably asking yourselves who the hell Rainer Wachtstetter is and if a red wine from Württemberg can really be worth recommending this highly, but this is a rare bargain amongst „serious“ red wines. Wachtstetter has been perfecting the making of red wines from the Lemberger grape for over a decade and the result is this medium-bodied, supply tannic dry wine with a wonderful bouquet in which elderberry, plum, baking spices and something floral mingle. Where’s my glass?”

Besides Lemberger and (of course) Trollinger, Rainer Wachtstetter also makes Pinot Noir, Samtrot and Dornfelder. Rainer Wachtstetter is not only a specialist in red wines, but also makes excellent white wines, including Riesling.


Of course, as a member of the VDP, Weingut Wachtstetter is following the new VDP classification. But you can still find elements of the old Weingut Wachtstetter classification. Rainer Wachtstetter has devoted a series of Riesling, Spätburgunder and Lemberger at the middle level to his 3 children Anna, Louis und Felix. The Ernst Combé series with red wines fermented and aged in barrique represents ultr-premium wines. The Grosses Gewaechs from the Grosse Lage Pfaffenhofener Hohenberg ( Riesling and Lemberger) represent ultra-premium dry wines.

Pictures: Tasting at Weingut Wachtstetter

Gasthaus Adler

Since the beginning of the 1900s, the small and cosy Gasthaus Adler – a wine tavern - has been an integral part of the Weingut Wachtstetters. Today, it is only open durng a few weekends in the spring and the autumn. We had our tasting in the Gasthaus Adler, which has room for 60 guests. We did not eat there, but Rainer Wachtstetter explained that the food is very much local food. In particular, the Gasthaus Adler has been known for many decades for its superb Spanferkel, with home-made Spätzle und Kartoffelsalat.


We tasted the following excellent wines. All wines were bone-dry.

Pictures: The Wines

2011 Lemberger weissgekelterter Sekt brut
2012 Riesling Kabinett trocken
2012 Anna Riesling trocken
2012 Grauburgunder trocken
2012 Lemberger blanc de noir trocken
2012 Muskat-Trollinger Weissherbst Kabinett
2011 Trollinger Steillage trocken
2008 Samtrot Ernst Combe trocken
2010 Felix Lemberger trocken
2009 Lemberger Ernst Combe trocken
2010 Pfaffenhofer Hohenberg Lemberger Grosses Gewaechs trocken

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