With a thousand years of cultural and regional history, the sometimes turbulent
story of the Palatinate began in the Holy Roman Empire’s early medieval period.
This fertile strip of land, barely 15km wide by 85 long, would eventually become
a coveted set-piece in the positioning between far-off Papal Emperors and the
emerging Protestants. In a middle ground, the successive line of secular princes
anointed as Counts of Palatine pursued a separate agenda of regional ambition.
Centuries of struggle eventually culminated in the 17th century during a so-called
War of the Grand Alliance, when French troops were dispatched northward by
Louis XIV, driving out much of the local population. Emigrating as a group, they
would become known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, though were mostly German.
Specifically, the lands they left behind are Rheinland-Pfalz: a modern state within
the German Federation whose bountiful grape-growing zones are bounded by
the west bank of the Rhine River and the densely forested Haardt Mountains.
The sheltered, relatively warm and dry microclimate in southwest Germany, has
helped Pfalz to earn an affectionate title: the Tuscany of Germany. Several steps
along in the region’s viticultural practice and shifting climate, they’re now able to
cultivate white asparagus, fig, almond, kiwifruit and lemons! The comparisons do
diverge though when it comes to the differing grape varieties that flourish in the
respective regions. In Pfalz, apart from the success in cultivating Dornfelder and
Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), it’s mainly about finessing their varietal white wines: Gewürztraminer, Riesling in various styles, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Sylvaner,
Muscat, and more recently for this vintner – Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc).
One of the visionary projects in the diverse portfolio of winemaker Ernst Loosen,
Weingut JL Wolf, now rebranded as Villa Wolf, is building on traditions begun in
the mid-18th century. The task of reinvigorating this particular estate just outside
of Wachenheim, is very much in keeping with the progressive mindset that has
methodically blossomed in the surrounding vineyards of the other 130 regional
villages; linked by the famed Deutsche Weinstraße (the German Wine Road).
Whereas Pinot Blanc has been derisively referred to as Pinot Bland elsewhere,
in this week’s DéClassé featuring of Villa Wolf Pinot Blanc 2014–this couldn’t
be further from the case. Certainly it’s a lighter wine style, but one that uniquely
benefits from the Pfalz’s sandstone soils and climate; better ensuring a harvest
of fully ripe grapes. The minimal processing and fermentation with natural yeast
yields a crisp, fruit-driven wine with a delightful purity. Stock up your wine-larder
now, knowing that 2 or 3 bottles – makes an excellent pairing for Thanksgiving!
VILLA WOLF PINOT BLANC 2014
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #374959 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: D
Made in Pfalz, Germany
By: Ernst Loosen
Release Date: September 19, 2015
Pleasingly tart and refreshing, the apple aromas and apricot flavours finish with
a light dusting of sweet herbs. Well paired with roast chicken or veal, fresh pea
risotto or smoked ham and cucumber salad as lunch fare.
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