Tag Archives: saar

Great news from the Saar river

Working vineyards along the Mosel as well as its two contribuaries Ruwer and Saar is hard work. The vineyards are often steep, as in very steep, the resulting wines are still insanely undervalued on the world market (especially when you consider how much manual labor needs to go into these vineyards), and this has led to a decrease in area under vine year after year.

This morning, however, I found some good news on my Facebook feed: The wineries Van Volxem and Markus Molitor, arguably among the highest esteemed wineries in the area, are recultivating an old and highly valued vineyard along the Saar: The Geisberg. Most of the hill had lost its vines by the 1970s and 1980s, a stunning development given that its wines sold for four times the price as Chateau Margaux on restaurant menus in 1900!

The article explaining the details is a couple of weeks old (my bad for not spotting it earlier), but the owner of Van Volxem, Roman Niewodniczanski, details the plans and current work on Lars Carlberg’s site here:

The Rebirth of a Riesling legend

I am looking forward to trying these wines from vines that will be planted in the spring of 2016. The article does a good job at explaining the history as well as what it means to recultivate a vineyard.

Van Volxem winery has posted some photos, and it’s really exhilarating seeing this project in action…and the hill is stunning!

Geisberg photos

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2011 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp “Kern” Riesling Fass 9

Peter Lauer's iconic label

Peter Lauer’s iconic label

For me, 2011 is a difficult vintage in German Riesling. The summer was very warm, and the grapes ripened a lot which resulted in lower acidity levels in general. It made for really nice dry wines when I tried them in 2012, but by now, I find a lot of them to feel flabby and uninspiring. So in general, I tend to avoid 2011 German Rieslings, at least at the moment.

It’s nice when you come across a bottle that actually captures you and makes you come back to it. And that was exactly what this bottle of wine by Saar winery Peter Lauer did for me. Peter Lauer, now a member of the elite winemaker association VDP, has been making highly acclaimed wines for a while now, and while I still have not visited the winery (something I intend to remedy this summer), I have had a decent amount of their portfolio. Their labels are hard to miss, given their unique design, and there are many things that make this winery stand out:

They try to defy German wine laws by putting fantasy names that closely resemble abolished vineyard names on the label to truly designate terroir and where exactly the grapes were grown.

They also put the barrel number on the label, because traditionally this winery put the must from its different plots in different barrels to vinify them separately.

They tend to not use the usual designations of Kabinett or Spätlese, and it is rather the barrel number (the German word for barrel is “Fass”) that will indicate what style the wine is made in.

Their slogan is: “Riesling for advanced drinkers” (Riesling für Fortgeschrittene)…

The 2011 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp “Kern” Riesling Fass 9 has 10% ABV with 35 grams of residual sugar/liter and hails from the Ayler Kupp vineyard, one of the prime locations along the Saar river. The “Kern” subsite is facing away from the Saar, on the far end of the Kupp. The winery considers it one of its premium sites, stocked with old vines. You can see it on this map:

Peter Lauer vineyard site map (Credit: Winery website)

Peter Lauer vineyard site map (Credit: Winery website)

The wine poured in a light yellow color like straw with hints of green. The nose was intense, with aromas of green apple and papaya, very fresh. The nose alone made me want to dive deeper into the wine. On the palate, it was light to medium bodied with a lot of heft to it. It was creamy, with lots of caramel, almost burnt caramel aromas (totally unexpected given its color!) and showed a lot of herbal character. I did not detect much fruit. The acidity was not noticeable, but not very prominent, but the sweetness was at the same time never overpowering. Towards the end, I detected some bitter aromas which did not quite fit in at that stage. The finish was of medium length. On the next day, the wine tasted a lot nuttier with walnut being the most prominent aroma on display.

This is not a Riesling as one usually expects a Riesling to be: The lack of fruit on the palate, the heaviness of the wine. There was so much going on on a different level than usually that made this wine a great experience. I am again and again surprised by what this grape can be capable of in the hands of the right winemakers. This wine is definitely worth a try and your time, especially in the darker months of the year. Peter Lauer wines are rather well available in the US.

 

 

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Some shots from the harvest in Germany

Instead of the usual Sunday read, I want to just show you some photos from the end of the German wine harvest. The harvest is almost over now in Germany. German wineries often go through their vineyards several times during harvest, selecting the grapes for each particular style of wine. The longer the grapes hang, usually the higher the concentration leading up to shrivelled, mostly botrytized grapes that are used for the stars of sweet wines, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.

Nik Weis, the owner and winemaker of St. Urbanshof, a winery in the Saar valley, posted some photos the other day of their final stages of harvest and I asked him whether I could share them. I hope you find them as interesting as I did. It gives you an idea of how labor intensive just the collection of grapes for these very high end wines is, and how low yields are, which explains their high prices…

I have added some photos from the harvest in the prime Mosel vineyard Erdener Prälat, taken by my friend ManSoo, who harvested there with Dr. Hermann winery.

I am leaving for a few weeks in Germany the coming weekend, and I am excited about trying the 2012 vintage of my beloved Mosel and Sarr Rieslings as well as wine from new places for me: I will visit the Kistenmacher-Hengerer estate, a newly minted member of the elite winemaker association VDP, in Württemberg, a region I hardly know anything about, for example.

Happy Sunday!

Another round of harvesting begins in Erdener Prälat

Another round of harvesting begins in Erdener Prälat

Collecting healthy and slightly shrivelled grapes

Collecting healthy and slightly shrivelled grapes in Erdener Prälat

Healthy Riesling Grape Cluster in Ockfener Bockstein

Healthy Riesling Grape Cluster in Ockfener Bockstein

Further selection taking place...

Further selection taking place… (Erdener Prälat)

Once the grapes get crushed, this "must weight scale" shows the density of the must in degrees Oechsle, which determines what quality category a wine can be listed as.

Once the grapes get crushed, this “must weight scale” shows the density of the must in degrees Oechsle, which determines what quality category a wine can be listed as.

Now that is manual labor.

Now that is manual labor: Highly shrivelled grape harvest on the Saar (St. Urbanshof)

Slowly, slowly piling up...

Slowly, slowly piling up…(St. Urbanshof)

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