Dautel - Württemberg Innovators

22 January 2020

When counting German wine regions, the traditional red wine region Württemberg may not be on the top of your most-familiar-list. But still, this frequently forgotten gem holds many hidden wonders and some wonderful Weingüters. Our pick of the week is one who considers oak in red wines as salt in a soup. Without, the soup is bland and with too much it is over-powered, as Christain Dautel says it. Balance is the key. And we can only nod in agreement.

The Weingut Dautel holds 20 hectares in Württemberg with about 24 pct. Riesling, 18 pct. Spätburgunder, 16 pct. Lemberger, and about 12 pct. of Chardonnay, Weissburgunder, Cabernet, and Trollinger. Their Grosse Lage/Grand crus counts Michaelsberg, Steingrüben, Schupen, and Forstberg and Erste Lage/Premier Crus Sonnenberg and Wurmberg. The estate is a family business with production shared between father Ernst Dautel, mother Hannelore Dautel, and the eldest son Christian Dautel. Together they have won numerous national and international prizes and been members of the prestigious VDP since 1999. And with good reason.

Like other producers, we have featured on this Magazine, Dautel represents the modern take on German winemaking - The break-up generation bored with the high-yield, bulk production winemaking which went on from WW2 till about the 70s. Since the 70s, where Ernst Dautel ended his coop with the local coop and decided to put all his efforts into his own bottles, the winery has grown steadily in experience and quality. The focus is on making each specific character of the specific terroir shine. In their opinion 80 pct. of the quality is determined in the vineyard which they keep as organic and respectful to the climate as possible. 

As a first mover in the 70s and 80s, Dautel started planting new grape varieties (for Germany), aiming for dryer wines than what was the standard at the time, and using oak barrels for maturation. Due to a special permit to plant Chardonnay on a trial basis, when it was not allowed by the authorities in the 80s, they are now the proud owners of the oldest Chardonnay vines in Germany. And that is only one of several innovations, which has characterized the 510 year old winery. Experiments with foreign grape types have went on, the typical barrique barrels of 225/228 l have been replaced by 300 l and larger barrels, and a natural approach to winegrowing has organically been introduced to the production site, which has already completely eliminated their use of industrial fertilizer. And for future innovations, sustainability and the respect of each site and terroir continues to be the priority, Christian Dautel has confided to us.

When directly asked, what grapes deserve more attention in the future from the outside world, he says, “Since mostly Riesling and nowadays Pinot Noir is associated with Germany, I would be happy if the focus in the future would also be on the Lemberger grape variety. Compared to Pinot Noir, Lembergers are often a bit stronger and more voluminous without losing their elegance. Because of the spiciness and peppery notes that you frequently find, it often reminds me of the wines of the Northern/Cooler Rhone Valley. Because of the individual independence and the great ripening potential, for me, along with the Pinot Noir, it is one of the two greatest red grape varieties in Germany.” And though, Dautel profess to have no favourites, we most admit we had a few – and Lemberger was amongst them.

We had the pleasure of having a chat and tasting some wines with the Weingut last year. This is how we scored them:

Dautel Zweigelt S 2015
90 Aroma had dark heavy fruit, oak, pepper, they, rosemary, coffee beans, and subtle smoke. Over the palate came dark fruit, cinnamon, oak, pepper, rosemary, leather, and ripe tannins. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Kreation Rot S 2015
90 Aroma had dark small fruits, cherries,, oak, vanilla, pepper, herbal notes, and coffee. Over the palate came dark distinct fruit, oak, smoke, leather, tobacco and light hints of vanilla. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Merlot S 2015
89 Aroma had succulent cherry, green pepper, coffee beans, herbs and oak. Over the palate came black currants, plums, green pepper, oak, smoke and vanilla. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Michaelsberg Lemberger Cleebronner 2016
92 Aroma had black currants, dark cherries, ripe plums, pepper and oak. Over the palate came black currants, oak, smoke, vanilla, pepper and light leather. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Lemberger Bönnigheimer Sonnenberg 2016
90 Aroma had black currants, oak, mixed red forest berries, pomegranate, rosemary, herbs and pepper. Over the palate came dark cherries, black currants, pepper, oak, pomegranate, hay, and subtle smoke. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Lemberger Gipskeuper 2017
88 Aroma had black currants, vanilla, oak, dark cherries, coffee beans, and herbs. Over the palate came black currants, plums, dark cherries, vanilla, herbs, thyme, and oak. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Dautel Lemberger 2017
87 Aroma had black currants, dark cherries, herbs, blueberries, pepper and oak. Over the palate came dark cherries, black currants, pepper, blueberries, herbs, and oak. Medium acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Schupen Spätburgunder Bönnigheim GG 2016
93 Aroma had succulent cherries, currants, forest floor, wild strawberries, oak, smoke and minerals. Over the palate came succulent strong cherries, currants, oak, smoke, licorice and forest floor. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Forstberg Spätburgunder Oberstenfeld 2016
92 Somewhat funky nose with cherries, oak, smoke, currants, tobacco notes, raspberries, and forest floor. Over the palate came succulent cherries, currants, oak, stable notes, smoke and forest floor. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Dautel Spätburgunder Bönnigheimer Sonnenberg 2016
90 Aroma had succulent cherries, herbs, hay, currants, oak, wild strawberries, and smoke. Over the palate came sour cherries, currants, distinct oak, smoke, wild strawberries, and herbs garden. Medium plus acidity, medium plus tannins and dry.
Dautel Spätburgunder Schilfsandstein 2016
89 Aroma cherries, currants, light barnyard, oak, smoke and herbs. Over the palate came succulent cherries, oak, currants, forest floor, smoke and licorice. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Dautel Spätburgunder 2017
88 Aroma had cherries, currants, light barnyard, pomegranate, forest floor, chassis, and oak. Over the palate came cherries, currants, subtle oak, herbs and forest floor. Medium acidity, medium tannins and dry.
Dautel Trollinger 2017
87 Aroma had cherries, currants and subtle oak. Over the palate came cherries, currants, herbs, light licorice, pomegranate, and subtle oak. Light smoke. Medium acidity, minus tannins and dry.
Dautel Riesling Brut 2016
86 Aroma had green and yellow apples, white peach, grapefruit and lemons. Over the palate came grapefruit, white blossoms, tangerine, green apples, and lime. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Freisinn 2016
88 Aroma had lychee, melon, overripe peach, apricots, herbs, and floral notes. Over the palate came lychee, gooseberries, overripe peach, white tea, and strawberries. Medium acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Chardonnay S 2017
92 Aroma had grapefruit, distinct oak, licorice and white peach. Over the palate came grapefruit, oak, licorice and lemons. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Weissburgunder S 2017
89 Aroma had light melon, minerals, oak, white blossoms, white tea, and licorice. Over the palate came melon, minerals, lime, licorice, light smoke, lemon verbena, and oak. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Kreation Weiss S 2017
90 Aroma had peach, light melon, minerals and oak. Over the palate came yellow stone fruit, oak, minerals, licorice and salt. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Weissburgunder Gipskeuper 2017
88 Aroma had melon, grapefruit, light oak, notes of hay, pale stonefruits, minerals and licorice. Over the palate came minerals, grapefruit, licorice, bergamotte, and jasmine flowers, and lemons. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Weissburgunder Gipskeuper 2018
88 Aroma had melon, lime, guava, pale stonefruits, subtle oak and minerals. Over the palate came melon, lime, apricots, pears, light pineapple, oak and licorice. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Weissburgunder 2018
87 Aroma had melon, lime, pineapple, honey blossoms, yellow stonefruits, fresh pears, and subtle herbs. Over the palate came melon, peach, lime, honey notes, white blossoms, and pineapples. Medium acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Steingrüben Riesling Bönnigheim 2017
90 Aroma had plenty of minerals, white peach, oak, floral honey, apricots, subtle licorice and melon. Over the palate came grapefruit, peach, white flowers, licorice, floral honey, papaya, and oak. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Riesling Besighemier Wurmberg Trocken 2017
89 Aroma had minerals, light peach, subtle oak, honey blossoms, yellow apples, and melon. Over the palate came peach, apricots, sharp acidity, minerals, orange peel, tangerine, and light oak. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Riesling Gipskeuper 2018
88 Aroma had peach, plenty of minerals, apricots, passion fruits, skin of green apples, and melon. Over the palate came peach, melon, apricots, lime, sharp acidity, tangerine, and plenty of minerals. Medium plus acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Riesling 2018
87 Aroma had peach, melon, apricots, white tea, jasmine flower, and floral honey. Over the palate came peach, apricots, subtle honey, lime and melon. Medium acidity, low tannins and dry.
Dautel Gewürztraminer Auslese 2017
90 Aroma had melon, lychee, white tea, toasted bread, thyme, botrytis, and overripe peach. Over the palate came lychee, overripe peach, melon, apricots, sweet thyme, white tea, and lime. Medium plus acidity, low/none tannins and off dry.

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