The wines of Germany's Saar region are best defined by expressions from its greatest heroes, Egon Müller and Hanno Zilliken. For over 2,000 years Riesling from steep slopes above the Saar tributary has been known for delicacy, finesse, and sharp clarity. These two renowned ambassadors over the last century have relied on ample residual sugar for their snapshop of vineyard and vintage. The young Florian Lauer has a very different perspective on the Saar, and he's not been shy about it.
Lauer's departure from the Müller and Zilliken mold can be found in two areas that stand out the most at first glance. His wines focus on a dry-tasting style, and the Saar's conventional "lightness of being" is traded for an unappologetic, deep textural symphony. One with a saturating grip that calls to mind Metallica more so than Mozart. THIS is Florian Lauer's Saar today. And it is awesome.
I've given up trying to count the number of times a Lauer wine has been poured for a drinker not particular fond or familiar with Riesling only to have them change their tune immdediately. Florian's wines have a way of flipping preconceived notions upside down in a flash. They are radical, yet engage us all with their purity, detail, and site specificity.
Increasingly warmer temperatures in the Saar now allow for this dry-tasting style to excel - it's one that would've been teeth-chattering just a couple decades ago. The magic of Lauer, and his home village of Ayl. comes from old, un-grafted vines worked entirely by hand. Within an exceptional range of wines all worth our attention, it's his Ayler Kupp Fass 6 "Senior" that stands as the proverbial whisper within the world of collectible German Riesling.
Kupp is the greatest vineyard of Ayl, and here 70-yr-old un-grafted vines are tapped for a wine whose name comes from a special portion of the vineyard that Florian's grandfather was enamored with. This western-most parcel would regularly end up in the Fass 6, a specific fuder that the patriach would write "Senior" on to mark it stricly for personal consumption. Thankfully, today Florian is more into sharing.
$29 per bottle puts Senior on my short list of the great values in the entire world of wine. Truth be told, I promise to cellar this wine each vintage, and each year I fail miserably in this pledge. Last year at our annual champagne and fried chicken party in San Diego it was a magnum of Lauer's Senior that emptied before any 750ml bottle - the truest testament to a wine's greatness. It's simply far too delicious upon release to justify tucking away, but for those of us who do, the reward is considerable.
2015 saw grandeur, density, and concentration. This new 2016 release is simply about perfect, exquisite balance. Everything is in its right place. There's no shortcoming on ripeness. There's no element of acidity that stands out. Each component melds perfectly with its partners. Among great German vintages, 2016 appears to be one we surely must add to the list. "Senior" does not make it far into the year without selling out, so I've done my best to bring on as much as possible upon release.
2016 Peter Lauer Ayler Kupp Riesling Senior
$29 per bottle.
1992 Peter Lauer Réserve Sekt Nature (Disgorged June 2016)
$79 per bottle.
2012 Peter Lauer Riesling Brut Sekt
$39 per bottle.
2014 Lauer Unterstenberg Riesling Fass 12 (off-dry)
$43 per bottle.
2015 Lauer Barrel X Riesling
$20 per bottle.
2015 Lauer Kupp Riesling Kabinett
$35 per bottle.
2015 Peter Lauer Kupp Riesling Spätlese Fass 7
$39 per bottle.
2015 Peter Lauer Schonfels Riesling GG Fass 11
$99 per bottle.
2015 Peter Lauer Unterstenberg Riesling Fass 12 (Off-Dry)
$39 per bottle.