Unique Mosel Spätlese That Should Only Improve With a Few More Years

Today’s Story: Weingut Dr. Loosen

Weingut Dr. Loosen is a storied wine producer located just outside Bernkastel in the Mosel region of Germany. The winery has been in the Loosen family for over 200 years, making them one of the most well-known producers of Riesling not only throughout Germany but throughout the world. The winery and vineyards came to Ernst “Erni” Loosen in 1988, and he immediately set about improving the quality of wines that ungrafted 60+ year-old vines in some of the Mosel’s best vineyards can produce. Erni believes that great wine should be both a sensual and intellectual pleasure, with each bottle showcasing the unique terroir, passion of the winemaker, and a snapshot of history. This philosophy feeds through to his winemaking style, where Erni strives to balance traditional and family-honed winemaking practices with experimental studies (such as time on lees) to make the best and most transparent wine possible. Nonetheless, all the Dr. Loosen wines ferment spontaneously in wooden barrels and see a minimum of 12 months on lees with no racking and no bâttonnage so as to not add excess weight or cover any nuances provided by the variety or site.

Dr. Loosen has been part of Germany’s VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter) since 1993, showcasing the incredible pedigree of their vineyards. What’s more, seven of the Dr. Loosen vineyards are designated VDP Grosse Lage (Grand Cru) and these wines are bottled as single vineyard bottlings since 1988. Any other wines produced by Dr. Loosen are labeled Estate or Village Rieslings. The vineyard sites under the Dr. Loosen umbrella include Bernkasteler Lay, Bernkasteler Johannisbrünnchen, Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Ürziger Würzgarten, Erdener Treppchen, and Erdener Prälat. As a whole, the variety breakdown is 98% Riesling and 2% Pinot Blanc.

I previously reviewed the 2018 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett and 2009 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling Spätlese.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese

100% Riesling; 8.5% ABV

The 2019 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spätlese is medium straw in color with mild greenish hues. Once this opens up in the glass, the aromas are of medium (+) intensity with the nose showcasing notes of underripe pear, nectarine, apricot, lemon pith, lime, jasmine, mint, pine, and wet slate. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate offers up notes of green apple skins, lime zest, mango, ripe pear, honeysuckle, slate, dried green herbs, and stony mineral. This medium-sweet Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Good quality and should only improve with another few years in the bottle.

Price: $33. This is a pretty fair price given the wine’s great quality, balance, and depth at this young age. What’s more, this was pretty unique for me as I haven’t really had a Riesling that throws off notes of mint and pine so that made it kind of fun.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Exceptional Feinherb-Style Riesling From One of My Favorite Producers

Today’s Story: Weingut Peter Lauer

Weingut Peter Lauer is a very highly regarded producer of German Riesling in the Mosel’s Saar region, and it has been in the Lauer family since 1830. Today the estate is run by fifth generation Florian Lauer who took over in 2006, but his father Peter remains involved in the cellars to this day. The estate consists of 8 hectares (19 acres) of vineyards situated across some of the Saar’s greatest sites, and the Lauer family holdings are planted to 100% Riesling. Many of their vines are very old, with some of them at 100 years of age. Weingut Peter Lauer is known for their dry Rieslings, particularly from the Grosse Lage sites of Kupp, Feils (sometimes referred to as Saarfeilser), and Schonfels, however they do make wines in the off-dry and sweet styles as well when the vintage conditions are perfect for them.

From a winemaking perspective, all viticulture is organic in nature and nearly all of the work is done entirely by hand thanks to the incredibly steep grades of the vineyards. After the fruit is hand-harvested, it arrives at the winery where fermentation is completely spontaneous and free of any non-native yeasts. What’s more, Weingut Peter Lauer maintains the practice of fermenting the same sites in the same barrel (fass/faß) vintage after vintage so that the same native yeasts can ferment the same point of origin (fruit) in a similar style. Each label is then labeled accordingly, such as the Faß 18 (Barrel 18) I am reviewing today. Lauer prefers slow fermentations with extended lees contact and bâtonnage (lees stirring) to add structure, while also eliminating their need for fining. The resulting wines are incredible representations of their terroir, and truly some of the finest being produced in the Saar.

Fun Fact: You can tell quite a bit from the Peter Lauer labels, perhaps in a much more unique manner than what’s typical. For instance, the circle in the center of each label can impart knowledge of quality, as the “village level” wines have a green circle and the Grand Cru wines a gold circle. Of course, the GG (Großes Gewächs) designation on the Grand Cru labels helps as well. You can also tell the sweetness level of the wine in a rather inconspicuous manner compared to how many producers may just put “Trocken” or “Spätlese” on their labels. For instance, the tiny circled “T” in the bottom center of my label today tells me this is a Trocken (dry) style. Peter Lauer will also show TF for Trocken to Feinherb (dry to off-dry) or simply F for Feinherb (off-dry). Any bottling without one of these designations can be presumed “fruity” or noble sweet.

I previously reviewed the 2019 Ayler Kupp Riesling Faß 18 Großes Gewächs, 1992 Réserve Brut, and 2015 Saarfeilser Riesling Faß 13 Großes Gewächs from Peter Lauer.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Kern Riesling Faß 9

100% Riesling; 9.5% ABV

The 2019 Kern Riesling Faß 9 is pale straw yellow in color. Given time to open up in the glass, the wine blossoms with aromas of pronounced intensity and a nose of ripe pear, white peach, Meyer lemon, lime zest, green apple skins, honeysuckle, rubber, petrol, slate, crushed gravel, and cheese rind. The flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate showcasing notes of white peach, canned pear, lemon zest, lime peel, dried apricot, honey, ginger, dried green herbs, crushed gravel, and vanilla cream. This off-dry Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a long finish. Outstanding quality and one of my favorite Peter Lauer wines so far. Long life ahead, but hard to resist right now.

Price: $49. I think this offers pretty solid value, particularly for cellaring. This is already incredibly intense, concentrated, and complex with great length on the finish. Only room to improve in the bottle for the foreseeable future.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Very Promising Spätlese With a Long Life Ahead

Today’s Story: Weingut Fritz Haag

Weingut Fritz Haag is a historic family-owned wine estate established by the Haag family in 1605 in Brauneberg of the Mosel winegrowing region of Germany. In its more recent “modern” history, Fritz Haag was under the leadership of Wilhelm Haag beginning in 1957 when he returned to help his ill father. An expected one-harvest stay turned into full-time winemaking for Wilhelm, ultimately resulting in exceptional quality wines being produced by the estate which garnered international acclaim and earned Wilhelm the German Winemaker of the Year title in 1994 by Gault Millau’s Guide to German Wines. Wilhelm passed the reins onto his son Oliver in 2005, and he runs the estate to this day with his wife Jessica.

The Fritz Haag estate consists of 19.5 hectares, with the vineyards planted entirely to the Riesling variety on very steep slopes along the Mosel River. As part of their holdings, Fritz Haag owns substantial holdings in the highly regarded Brauneberger Juffer and Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr vineyards which produce their highest quality fruit for the Grosses Gewächs wines and Prädikatswein. Fritz Haag produces a range of Rieslings, going from dry all the way to sweet wines made with botrytis-affected grapes but they keep production to around 5,500 cases per year with mild fluctuations due to vintage conditions.

To preserve the pronounced aroma and flavor characteristics of their wines, Fritz Haag utilizes stainless steel and some old oak during the winemaking process. Fermentations occur only with indigenous yeasts, and the name of the game is to produce exceptionally pure wines that show true sense of place.

To explore Weingut Fritz Haag further, you can check out their website here. I also previously reviewed their 2019 Riesling.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Juffer Riesling Spätlese

100% Riesling; 8% ABV

The 2020 Juffer Riesling Spätlese is pale straw in color. This is super young, so I gave it quite a bit of time to open up in the glass and it no doubt needs more time in the cellar to reach its full potential. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of white peach, lime pith, nectarine, pear, white lily, flint, a hint of petrol, and saline mineral. Flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, with the palate offering up notes of pear, white peach, green apple, lime zest, underripe pineapple, honeysuckle, wet slate, and a hint of green herbs. This medium sweet Riesling is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Good quality, and very well-balanced.

Price: $30 (though you might be able to find it a few dollars cheaper). I think this is very well-priced and even offers a solid value proposition. I know this is insanely young, though the balance and depth are both already very promising. The acid is very high right now but balances well with the sweetness, so this should have a long life ahead.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Delicious Spätburgunder at a Very Reasonable Price

Today’s Story: Shelter Winery

Shelter Winery is a fairly small family-owned winery, established in 2003 by husband and wife duo Hans-Bert Espe and Silke Wolf. Situated in the Baden region of Germany on the eastern side of the Rhine River, Shelter holds vineyards in the villages of Kenzingen and Malterdingen and they are dedicated to the production of Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir. Today their vineyard holdings consist of five hectares (12 acres) and Shelter is dedicated to organic viticulture with zero use of herbicides or pesticides. Harvest is accomplished fully by hand, and the fruit is destemmed at the winery prior to a cold soak and delicate pressing. Fermentation occurs in open top vessels using only native yeasts, and the wine is then transferred to oak barrels of which the majority are used. The end result is a Spätburgunder that is both true to variety and place, while the cooler climate of their vineyards generally yield lower alcohol and higher natural acidity.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Spätburgunder

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2018 Spätburgunder is medium ruby in color. Given some time to open up in the glass, this blossoms beautifully with aromas of medium (+) intensity and a nose of cherry, black raspberry, wild strawberry, blood orange rind, rose petal, anise, leather, a hint of barnyard, charred green herbs, white pepper, and mild baking spice. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity, and the palate showcases notes of black cherry, black raspberry, red plum, muddled strawberry, licorice, cola, dried tobacco leaf, green pepper, underbrush, and cocoa powder. This dry red is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good quality, particularly given the price-point.

Price: $27. I think this is pretty solid value, particularly given how expressive and complex this is after a little air time. It’s also well-balanced and is a fun yet serious representation of German Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Excellent Kabinett That Needs a Bit More Time

Today’s Story: Weingut Clemens Busch

Weingut Clemens Busch is a highly regarded family-owned wine estate under the guide of fifth generation winemaker Clemens Busch and his wife Rita. Clemens began working with his father on the family’s two hectares (five acres) of vineyards during the mid-1970s, however he and Rita inherited the estate themselves in 1984. The winery is located in the town of Pünderich along the Mosel River in Germany, and the majority of their vineyards sit across the way on the iconic hillside known as Marienburg. Over time Clemens and Rita have adeptly added to their vineyard holdings while their neighbors moved elsewhere to focus on Pinot Noir during the 1980s, so today the family property consists of about 16 hectares (39 acres) of vineyards planted to 99% Riesling and 1% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The “house specials,” if you will, are Rieslings made in a dry style though they also produce some noble sweet Riesling as well which many consider some of the finest in the Mosel.

Not one to follow the norms of the region, Clemens believes wholeheartedly that organic and biodynamic viticulture, alongside minimal intervention in the cellar, produces the greatest wines. Clemens and Rita were early adopters of organic farming when they converted in 1984, and they are also early adopters of biodynamics which they fully converted to in 2005 with certification. Clemens also goes against the grain when it comes to his bottlings. The hill of Marienburg became “one site” thanks to a government ruling in 1971 that combined all the individual sites of this 23 hectare (57 acre) hillside into a 90 hectare (222 acre) area. While this was initially supposed to “help” its recognition, Clemens knew that all the different soil types and historic vineyard names are important to maintain so he vinifies, bottles, and labels all the wines by their historic, pre-combined names.

In the cellar specifically, Clemens practices minimal intervention winemaking in an attempt to best showcase the unique terroir of each bottling. This includes fermentation with only native and spontaneous yeasts and aging the wines in very old 1,000 liter barrels (some of which are over 40 years old). Amazingly, most of their fermentation take eight to ten months due to this method! Clemens does not like adding sulfur to his wines either, so to minimize this he only adds a small dose prior to bottling. These wines are never fined as well, again in an effort to show the variety and terroir in the most honest way possible.

Fun Fact: The color of the capsule on each bottle of Clemens Busch tells the consumer what color slate the fruit for the wine grows in. A grey capsule represents grey slate, a blue capsule blue slate, and a red capsule red slate.

I previously reviewed the 2019 Riesling Trocken from Clemens Busch.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Riesling Kabinett

100% Riesling; 7.5% ABV

The 2019 Riesling Kabinett is pale straw in color. Given some time to blossom in the glass, the wine showcases a nose of pronounced intensity and aromas of white peach, green apple, lime pith, honeysuckle, petrol, and slate. It’s very floral overall, and fairly delicate. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, lime zest, kiwi, jasmine, wet slate, and mineral. There’s an interesting note of fennel on the finish as well. This off-dry Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. No doubt this is too young and perhaps slightly closed off now, but it’s already showing beautiful balance.

Price: $30. This is a great value, even though you should be patient with it and let these rest for a few more years. It has great intensity and acid, and while it’s not the most complex wine right now I think this will improve tremendously.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Quintessential Saar Riesling That Needs a Few More Years

Today’s Story: Weingut Peter Lauer

Weingut Peter Lauer is a very highly regarded producer of German Riesling in the Mosel’s Saar region, and it has been in the Lauer family since 1830. Today the estate is run by fifth generation Florian Lauer who took over in 2006, but his father Peter remains involved in the cellars to this day. The estate consists of 8 hectares (19 acres) of vineyards situated across some of the Saar’s greatest sites, and the Lauer family holdings are planted to 100% Riesling. Many of their vines are very old, with some of them at 100 years of age. Weingut Peter Lauer is known for their dry Rieslings, particularly from the Grosse Lage sites of Kupp, Feils (sometimes referred to as Saarfeilser), and Schonfels, however they do make wines in the off-dry and sweet styles as well when the vintage conditions are perfect for them.

From a winemaking perspective, all viticulture is organic in nature and nearly all of the work is done entirely by hand thanks to the incredibly steep grades of the vineyards. After the fruit is hand-harvested, it arrives at the winery where fermentation is completely spontaneous and free of any non-native yeasts. What’s more, Weingut Peter Lauer maintains the practice of fermenting the same sites in the same barrel (fass/faß) vintage after vintage so that the same native yeasts can ferment the same point of origin (fruit) in a similar style. Each label is then labeled accordingly, such as the Faß 13 (Barrel 13) I am reviewing today. Lauer prefers slow fermentations with extended lees contact and bâtonnage (lees stirring) to add structure, while also eliminating their need for fining. The resulting wines are incredible representations of their terroir, and truly some of the finest being produced in the Saar.

Fun Fact: You can tell quite a bit from the Peter Lauer labels, perhaps in a much more unique manner than what’s typical. For instance, the circle in the center of each label can impart knowledge of quality, as the “village level” wines have a green circle and the Grand Cru wines a gold circle. Of course, the GG (Großes Gewächs) designation on the Grand Cru labels helps as well. You can also tell the sweetness level of the wine in a rather inconspicuous manner compared to how many producers may just put “Trocken” or “Spätlese” on their labels. For instance, the tiny circled “T” in the bottom center of my label today tells me this is a Trocken (dry) style. Peter Lauer will also show TF for Trocken to Feinherb (dry to off-dry) or simply F for Feinherb (off-dry). Any bottling without one of these designations can be presumed “fruity” or noble sweet.

I previously reviewed the 2019 Ayler Kupp Riesling Faß 18 Großes Gewächs and 1992 Réserve Brut from Weingut Peter Lauer.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Saarfeilser Riesling Faß 13 Großes Gewächs

100% Riesling; 12.5% ABV

The 2015 Saarfeilser Riesling Faß 13 Großes Gewächs is medium gold in color. This took a couple hours to open up in the glass, and the last glass I saved for day two was even better. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of white peach, apricot, lime zest, honeysuckle, wet slate, a hint of petrol, melted caramel, and crushed stone minerality. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate displays notes of yellow apple, white peach, lemon peel, dried pineapple, dried apricot, white lily, slate, and saline mineral. This dry Riesling is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very good quality and a bit riper than I expected. This is incredibly shy right now and took a lot of air to come out of its shell. Needs time.

Price: $60. I think this is pretty good value, though you need to be patient with this one. It’s got great depth, balance, and length even if it does seem shy and slightly closed off at this stage. But this is why I open young wines; to get an understanding of how they progress and to tell myself I need to buy more while I still can.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Honest Mosel Riesling With a Lot of Heart and a Great Value

Today’s Story: Weingut Clemens Busch

Weingut Clemens Busch is a highly regarded family-owned wine estate under the guide of fifth generation winemaker Clemens Busch and his wife Rita. Clemens began working with his father on the family’s two hectares (five acres) of vineyards during the mid-1970s, however he and Rita inherited the estate themselves in 1984. The winery is located in the town of Pünderich along the Mosel River in Germany, and the majority of their vineyards sit across the way on the iconic hillside known as Marienburg. Over time Clemens and Rita have adeptly added to their vineyard holdings while their neighbors moved elsewhere to focus on Pinot Noir during the 1980s, so today the family property consists of about 16 hectares (39 acres) of vineyards planted to 99% Riesling and 1% Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). The “house specials,” if you will, are Rieslings made in a dry style though they also produce some noble sweet Riesling as well which many consider some of the finest in the Mosel.

Not one to follow the norms of the region, Clemens believes wholeheartedly that organic and biodynamic viticulture, alongside minimal intervention in the cellar, produces the greatest wines. Clemens and Rita were early adopters of organic farming when they converted in 1984, and they are also early adopters of biodynamics which they fully converted to in 2005 with certification. Clemens also goes against the grain when it comes to his bottlings. The hill of Marienburg became “one site” thanks to a government ruling in 1971 that combined all the individual sites of this 23 hectare (57 acre) hillside into a 90 hectare (222 acre) area. While this was initially supposed to “help” its recognition, Clemens knew that all the different soil types and historic vineyard names are important to maintain so he vinifies, bottles, and labels all the wines by their historic, pre-combined names.

In the cellar specifically, Clemens practices minimal intervention winemaking in an attempt to best showcase the unique terroir of each bottling. This includes fermentation with only native and spontaneous yeasts and aging the wines in very old 1,000 liter barrels (some of which are over 40 years old). Amazingly, most of their fermentation take eight to ten months due to this method! Clemens does not like adding sulfur to his wines either, so to minimize this he only adds a small dose prior to bottling. These wines are never fined as well, again in an effort to show the variety and terroir in the most honest way possible.

Fun Fact: The color of the capsule on each bottle of Clemens Busch tells the consumer what color slate the fruit for the wine grows in. A grey capsule represents grey slate, a blue capsule blue slate, and a red capsule red slate.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Riesling Trocken

100% Riesling; 10.5% ABV

The 2019 Riesling Trocken is medium yellow in color. This takes a couple hours to really open up thanks to its youth, but once it does the aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of white peach, lemon and lime zest, green apple, honeysuckle, petrol, smoke, wet slate, and stony mineral. The flavors are also of pronounced intensity, while the palate offers up notes of lime peel, green apple, dried apricot, white peach, jasmine, a hint of smoke, slate, and mineral. This dry white is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Good quality for this entry-level bottling.

Price: $23. This is pretty well-priced for its quality level as an entry-level bottling. While it takes some coaxing at this stage to come out of its shell, there’s great intensity and depth to this wine for its price-point. Not a bad one to have while you wait on the higher-end bottlings to mature.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

The Most Exciting Wine I’ve Had in a LONG Time

Today’s Story: Weingut Peter Lauer

Weingut Peter Lauer is a very highly regarded producer of German Riesling in the Mosel’s Saar region, and it has been in the Lauer family since 1830. Today the estate is run by fifth generation Florian Lauer who took over in 2006, but his father Peter remains involved in the cellars to this day. The estate consists of 8 hectares (19 acres) of vineyards situated across some of the Saar’s greatest sites, and the Lauer family holdings are planted to 100% Riesling. Many of their vines are very old, with some of them at 100 years of age. Weingut Peter Lauer is known for their dry Rieslings, particularly from the Grosse Lage sites of Kupp, Feils (sometimes referred to as Saarfeilser), and Schonfels, however they do make wines in the off-dry and sweet styles as well when the vintage conditions are perfect for them.

From a winemaking perspective, all viticulture is organic in nature and nearly all of the work is done entirely by hand thanks to the incredibly steep grades of the vineyards. After the fruit is hand-harvested, it arrives at the winery where fermentation is completely spontaneous and free of any non-native yeasts. What’s more, Weingut Peter Lauer maintains the practice of fermenting the same sites in the same barrel (fass/faß) vintage after vintage so that the same native yeasts can ferment the same point of origin (fruit) in a similar style. Each label is then labeled accordingly, such as the Faß 18 (Barrel 18) I am reviewing today. Lauer prefers slow fermentations with extended lees contact and bâtonnage (lees stirring) to add structure, while also eliminating their need for fining. The resulting wines are incredible representations of their terroir, and truly some of the finest being produced in the Saar.

Fun Fact: You can tell quite a bit from the Peter Lauer labels, perhaps in a much more unique manner than what’s typical. For instance, the circle in the center of each label can impart knowledge of quality, as the “village level” wines have a green circle and the Grand Cru wines a gold circle. Of course, the GG (Großes Gewächs) designation on the Grand Cru labels helps as well. You can also tell the sweetness level of the wine in a rather inconspicuous manner compared to how many producers may just put “Trocken” or “Spätlese” on their labels. For instance, the tiny circled “T” in the bottom center of my label today tells me this is a Trocken (dry) style. Peter Lauer will also show TF for Trocken to Feinherb (dry to off-dry) or simply F for Feinherb (off-dry). Any bottling without one of these designations can be presumed “fruity” or noble sweet.

I previously reviewed the 2019 Ayler Kupp Riesling Faß 18 Großes Gewächs from Peter Lauer.

Today’s Wine: 1992 Réserve Brut

100% Riesling; 10.5% ABV

The 1992 Réserve Brut is deep gold in color with delicate effervescence. This is absolutely singing right out of the gates, with the aromas of pronounced intensity and the incredibly layered nose showcasing notes of apricot, banana, yellow peach, orange peel, tobacco leaf, green olive, peat, graphite, smoke, seashell, almond, and stony mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the equally complex palate offering notes of baked pear, golden apple, dried apricot, honeysuckle, peat, bacon, charred green herbs, smoke, toasted almond, melted caramel, sea salt, and white pepper. There’s a fairly bright mineral element on the palate as well. This dry sparkling wine is medium-bodied and creamy with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Very good quality and an incredibly exciting wine to try. This continued to evolve throughout the bottle, but I’d suggest drinking these up in the next year or two. Méthode Traditionnelle and hand-riddled. Disgorged after 28 years with zero dosage.

Price: $65. I think this offers great value, though it’s very important to note this wine will not be for everyone. This is very peaty and smoky (almost reminiscent of some Scotch notes) and it’s a highly unusual wine. For me though, I love this. The balance, intensity, and complexity all speak to the high quality as well.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it. Unfortunately, this bottle seems difficult to find.

Well-Aged and Beautiful Spätlese From the Mosel

Today’s Story: Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm

Joh. Jos. Prüm, situated in the village of Wehlen on the banks of the Mosel in Germany, is one of the most highly-regarded wine estates in the region and perhaps all of Germany. Though the Prüm family lived in Wehlen back to the year 1156, the estate as we know it today started to take shape during the 1800s under Sebastian Alois Prüm. Joh. Jos. Prüm itself, however, was established in 1911 when Johann Josef Prüm received part of the family estate which was split between him and his siblings. Joh. Jos. Prüm wasn’t in the greatest of health when his son Sebastian took over in 1920, and it again passed to Sebastian’s son Dr. Manfred Prüm in 1969. Joh. Jos. Prüm remains a family estate to this day, as Manfred’s oldest daughter Katharina now runs the show with minimal but ready input from her father.

The Joh. Jos. Prüm estate consists of about 14 hectares (35 acres) of vineyards, with important holdings in Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, and Bernkasteler Badstube. The Prüms exclusively produce Riesling in a range of styles, and an amazing 70% of their vines are ungrafted. The winemaking style here is rather traditional and harvest occurs on the later-end, ultimately resulting in wines that are delicate and restrained yet incredibly long-lived. Annual production typically hovers around 13,000 cases, and these are highly prized and collectible wines once they hit substantial levels of bottle age.

I previously reviewed the 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel from Joh. Jos. Prüm.

Today’s Wine: 2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

100% Riesling; 7.5% ABV

The 2008 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese is medium yellow in color. Given some time in the glass, the aromas blossom with pronounced intensity and the nose showcases notes of peach, golden pear, dried apricot, a pinch of lime zest, honeysuckle, a hint of petrol, mild underbrush, clay, and flint. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of ripe pear, peach, nectarine, dried apricot, dried pineapple, white florals, slight petrol, and wet slate. There’s also a very interesting note of caramel at the very end that caught me by surprise. This medium-sweet Riesling is medium bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a long finish. Outstanding quality and incredibly well-balanced with the acidity and sweetness in perfect harmony.

Price: $70. This offers fairly decent value, particularly at this age. The wine is intense, solidly complex, and supremely balanced which makes for an incredible drinking experience. Will have to get more of this.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.

Young but Incredibly Promising Riesling From One of Saar’s Great Names

Today’s Story: Weingut Peter Lauer

Weingut Peter Lauer is a very highly regarded producer of German Riesling in the Mosel’s Saar region, and it has been in the Lauer family since 1830. Today the estate is run by fifth generation Florian Lauer who took over in 2006, but his father Peter remains involved in the cellars to this day. The estate consists of 8 hectares (19 acres) of vineyards situated across some of the Saar’s greatest sites, and the Lauer family holdings are planted to 100% Riesling. Many of their vines are very old, with some of them at 100 years of age. Weingut Peter Lauer is known for their dry Rieslings, particularly from the Grosse Lage sites of Kupp, Feils (sometimes referred to as Saarfeilser), and Schonfels, however they do make wines in the off-dry and sweet styles as well when the vintage conditions are perfect for them.

From a winemaking perspective, all viticulture is organic in nature and nearly all of the work is done entirely by hand thanks to the incredibly steep grades of the vineyards. After the fruit is hand-harvested, it arrives at the winery where fermentation is completely spontaneous and free of any non-native yeasts. What’s more, Weingut Peter Lauer maintains the practice of fermenting the same sites in the same barrel (fass/faß) vintage after vintage so that the same native yeasts can ferment the same point of origin (fruit) in a similar style. Each label is then labeled accordingly, such as the Faß 18 (Barrel 18) I am reviewing today. Lauer prefers slow fermentations with extended lees contact and bâtonnage (lees stirring) to add structure, while also eliminating their need for fining. The resulting wines are incredible representations of their terroir, and truly some of the finest being produced in the Saar.

Fun Fact: You can tell quite a bit from the Peter Lauer labels, perhaps in a much more unique manner than what’s typical. For instance, the circle in the center of each label can impart knowledge of quality, as the “village level” wines have a green circle and the Grand Cru wines a gold circle. Of course, the GG (Großes Gewächs) designation on the Grand Cru labels helps as well. You can also tell the sweetness level of the wine in a rather inconspicuous manner compared to how many producers may just put “Trocken” or “Spätlese” on their labels. For instance, the tiny circled “T” in the bottom center of my label today tells me this is a Trocken (dry) style. Peter Lauer will also show TF for Trocken to Feinherb (dry to off-dry) or simply F for Feinherb (off-dry). Any bottling without one of these designations can be presumed “fruity” or noble sweet.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Ayler Kupp Riesling Faß 18 Großes Gewächs

100% Riesling; 12.5% ABV

The 2019 Ayler Kupp Riesling Faß 18 Großes Gewächs is pale gold in color. This takes a few hours to come out of its shell, so I waited two hours for the first glass and drank it over the following two hours. Aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose offering up notes of white peach, apricot, green apple skins, lemon candy, honeysuckle, wet slate, and a hint of chopped grass. The flavors are also of pronounced intensity, while the palate showcases notes of lemon, green apple, white peach, chamomile, honeysuckle, slate, and stony mineral. The palate is also pretty herbal overall. This dry Riesling is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very good quality but needs probably another five years in the bottle.

Price: $60. There’s a solid value play here, but you need to be patient and lay this down. I like opening wines that are too young every once in a while, because they help teach me the progression of the aging process and help guide my decisions in stocking my collection. This Riesling offers great intensity, balance, and length at a young age so it’s one to keep on the radar.

If this wine seems like something you might enjoy, you may find this link helpful in locating it.