Villa Wolf Pinot Gris 2014
It’s getting on for 20 years since Ernst Loosen decided to broaden his winemaking palette by taking on the JL Wolf estate in the village of Wachenheim in the Pfalz. The region lies between the Haardt Mountains and the Rhine, directly north of Alsace. The protective influence of the mountains makes this one of the warmer, drier areas of Germany. As with his intense and powerful Mosel wines, Erni aims to preserve the traditional character of the region and the grape variety but with a further level of concentration and opulence. Typically, wines from the Pfalz are weightier and drier than their Mosel counterparts and have a style that’s rounder and more earthy. These are clean, focused wines with good body, full fruit flavours and a strong backbone.
He travelled to Austria, Burgundy, Alsace, even California. He went wherever great wine was being made, seeking out the best winemakers to find out what they had in common. What he discovered was that they all share a dedication to producing intense, concentrated wines that boldly proclaim their heritage. They also have a worldly outlook that allows them to maintain respect for tradition while tempering it with reason. This gives them the freedom to acknowledge that not all traditions deserve to be doggedly observed, and allows judicious use of modern winemaking techniques when it will improve quality.
Erni took ownership of the estate in 1988. Ungrafted vines averaging 70 years of age, in some of Germany's best-rated vineyards, gave him the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines. To achieve this, he dramatically reduced his crop size and stopped all chemical fertilisation, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilisers. And, most importantly, he turned to gentler cellar practices that allow the wine to develop its full potential with a minimum of handling and technological meddling.
The predominant soil type is well-drained, weathered sandstone, which produces wines with a fruit-driven purity and a stony structure. The fruit is harvested at optimal ripeness for a bright, fresh style. No overripe or botrytis affected fruit is allowed. The grapes are processed as quickly as possible to preserve freshness, with fermentation in a combination of stainless steel, large neutral oak casks and concrete tanks.