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.