Founded in 1756, in the Pfalz region of Germany, the J.L. Wolf estate (now called Villa Wolf) was a successful and highly regarded winery for more than two centuries. It entered an especially glamorous era with the construction of its Italianate estate house and villa in 1843.
In the latter years of the 20th century, however, the estate languished, lacking a firm hand to guide its wine production. Ernst Loosen, of the Dr. Loosen estate, took over the vineyards in 1996, launching a dramatic turnaround in the estate’s quality and reputation.
Since 2011, the estate has been managed by a talented and dedicated young couple who met while working at Dr. Loosen. Patrick Moellendorf and Sumi Gebauer have brought renewed energy and focus to the viticulture and winemaking at Villa Wolf.
The goal at Villa Wolf is to produce wines that express the pure, authentic terroir of the Pfalz. Made in the classic style of the Pfalz, Villa Wolf Rieslings are drier and more full-bodied than Mosel Rieslings, with fully ripe fruit flavors and a characteristic stoniness in the aroma.
The Pfalz region also has a long tradition with other grape varieties, allowing Ernst and his team to expand their winemaking palette to include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Dornfelder. To preserve the naturally high quality of the vineyards, we employ sustainable viticultural practices and emphasize gentle handling of the fruit through traditional, minimalist winemaking.
VILLA WOLF ESTATE-GROWN RIESLINGS
An unofficial, Burgundy-style classification of the vineyards is used at Villa Wolf, based largely on a vineyard property tax assessment done by the Bavarian government in 1828. Historical accounts of quality and price confirm the first-growth (grand cru) status of the Pechstein vineyard in the village of Forst, and the second-growth (premier cru) Belz vineyard in Wachenheim. In addition, village-quality (villages) vineyards are harvested to produce Wachenheimer Riesling.
The fruit for the Wachenheimer Riesling comes from a single-vineyard site, called Königswingert (“King’s Vineyard”), but is labeled only with the village name. This excellent site lies just to the north of the village and is rated as a premier cru vineyard. The Wachenheimer Riesling has an elegant mineral purity and good intensity on the palate. It is a refreshing wine that’s very easy to drink, but there is also a distinctive stony character that reflects the terroir of Königswingert.
The Belz (pronounced “BELTS”) vineyard, one of the finest in the village of Wachenheim, is the only site in the area with a significant amount of chalk (shell limestone) in the soil. It produces distinctive wines with a rounded structure and an engaging grapefruit note in the aroma. A captivating stony perfume emerges from the wine as it matures. This premier cru site is wholly owned by the Villa Wolf estate.
Forster Pechstein (PESH-stine) is one of the finest vineyards in the Pfalz and has been regarded as a grand cru site for centuries. It lies on the gentle, east-facing slope that extends from behind the village of Forst up toward the Haardt Mountains. The name (literally, “tar stone”) refers to the black basalt stones in the soil, which give the wines a strong mineral backbone. Of all the vineyards at Villa Wolf, Pechstein produces the most assertive, mineral-driven Rieslings.
VILLA WOLF VARIETAL VALUES
The Villa Wolf line-up of non-vineyard-designated varietal wines show the true character of each variety as it is grown in the warm and sunny Pfalz region. Villa Wolf wines are made from Villa Wolf estate fruit supplemented with grapes from contracted growers. Varieties include Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Dornfelder and Pinot Noir (red and rosé). These are excellent glass-pour wines, as well as great values on the retail shelf.
The Pinot Gris variety was first identified in the Pfalz region. Villa Wolf Pinot Gris is made in a full-bodied, dry style with fresh, unoaked fruit and a crisp texture. Half of each vintage is made in large, neutral oak casks for depth and complexity. The other half is done in stainless steel to preserve freshness and enhance the vibrant fruit. An excellent partner for salmon, chicken or pork.
The Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer is clean, fruity and wonderfully light on its feet. It shows off the aromatic charm of the variety without being heavy or ponderous. It has a deliciously juicy texture and a delightfully delicate aroma of spice and fresh roses. It’s very refreshing to drink on its own and makes a perfect accompaniment to spicy Asian cuisine.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir is warm and medium-bodied, with a firm acid structure. Its dark cherry fruit is juicy, ripe, and forward, with a spicy mid-palate. Six months of barrique aging gives the wine a smoky depth and a nice touch of earthy tannins. This is a very grown-up Pinot Noir for the price, and it’s another excellent wine for everyday dining.
The Pfalz is a very warm and sunny region, often called “the Tuscany of Germany,” so all of the Pinot varieties do well here. The Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé is a true rosé, made with a brief maceration before pressing to extract color. It is light and refreshing, with deliciously bright berry and fruit flavors and a clean, zippy finish. It’s perfect for holiday meals, especially when ham is involved.
This medium-bodied dry Riesling has lovely flavors of peach and stone, with a hint of apricot. Nicely balanced acidity gives it a juicy grip. It is an excellent match for classic continental-style cooking, especially with dishes that feature freshwater fish, chicken and pork.
Dornfelder is the most successful German red grape. It is a crossing developed in 1955 at the Weinsberg Wine School, and was named after the founder of the Wine School, Imanuel Dornfeld. About 20,262 acres (8,200 hectares) of Dornfelder are planted throughout Germany, accounting for 8% of the total vineyard area. The majority of this grape is produced in the Rheinhessen and Pfalz regions, each with over 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) planted. Villa Wolf Dornfelder is a fruity, medium-bodied red wine with flavors of plums and cherries balanced by velvety tannins. It has an intense color and pairs well with a wide variety of foods.
Sales materials for some wines are still in production. If you need something that you can’t find here, please e-mail us and we will get it to you as quickly as possible.