Week 22 – Zilliken, Saarburger Riesling 2013

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The Mosel is without a doubt Germany’s most famous wine region. Most people associate it with sweet wines and rightly so. Somehow the slopes along the Mosel or the Saar are capable of bringing out an almost ethereal lightness in Riesling, showcasing delicacy and liveliness at the same time. The slopes can be extremely steep so the only thing that sticks is solid slate, forcing the vine roots to penetrate deeply into the soil to draw up water and nutrients. As a consequence, Phylloxera was not able to conquer certain areas thus there are still quite a few ungrafted vineyards to explore.

The Saar area accounts for roughly a tenth of the region in its entirety and quality is incredibly high. Scharzhofberg, Germany’s equivalent to Burgundy’s Romanée-Conti, can be found here, as well as several other highly reputed vineyards. There are two defining elements contributing to the exemplary wines you can find here. The soil is complex, containing not only slate but also traces of volcanic rock as you move southwards, and the vineyards are located at a higher altitude than the rest of the Mosel valley. Cooler temperatures will lead to an increased acidity in wines and even though this may lead to uneven ripeness in difficult years, it can also be key to striking just the right balance in a wine.

The Saarburger Rausch is a vineyard located just above the town of Saarburg. Weingut Zilliken is the most important producer active on this Grosse Lage and also owns several vineyards on the lower slopes, which are then classified as Ortswein. Today we are taking a sip of the Saarburger Riesling Trocken 2013. It was not an easy vintage as hail caused lot of damage to the blossoming vines, delaying the ripening cycle. As a consequence, part of the harvest had to be declassified, so what normally should have been up to GG standards now ended up in the Ortswein.

The wine is quite open on the nose; at first I got something that resembled botrytis, quickly replaced by a more fruity sensation with a lot of oranges. Dense in structure, it comes across quite concentrated and tight in the beginning only to lose some of its power after some time in the glass. The acidity is there, but it feels a bit held back, more there to dot the i’s instead of driving the wine. There is a certain richness, even creaminess to be found in the finish, which I think is because of the residual sugar, ending on a lively note.

 

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