2011 Lauer: The Incredible Lightness of (Saar) Riesling

Posted by Joe Salamone

The Incredible Lightness of Riesling
2011 Weingut Peter Lauer

We introduced the Rieslings of Weingut Peter Lauer to the United States nearly three years ago with the following (subtle) headline:
THE German Discovery of the Year!

The reputation of these wines has since exploded. As a good friend said to us last year: "Lauer has gone cult."

In a very short amount of time, Lauer has gone from virtually unknown to among the most coveted Rieslings in the shop. (It's worth noting that ours was really more of a "re-introduction;" David Schildknecht was the original fan, importing small quantities of the wines into the U.S. in the late 1980s.)

The style at Lauer is uncompromising. This is Saar Riesling in its most glorious form, which is to say bright, transparent, nimble, finessed and filigreed. Lauer's wines are INTENSE, yet compact with detail and precision.

Lauer Hill Climbing
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Yet, as juicy and approachable as the "Senior" is, Florian Lauer makes serious Rieslings. He has a great phrase: "Rieslings for Advanced Learners." These are uncompromising terroir-driven whites that completely ignore the traditional Kabinett-Spatlese-Auslese heirarchy. They are fermented naturally until they find their own balance. Most often, while they may have some residual sugar, they are "dry tasting."

Today, we present two value/hallmark bottlings from the 2011 collection: Senior and Unterstenbersch.

The 2011 Lauers come to the table with more density and concentration than in years past. Compared to the severe 2010ers (a vintage, mind you, we loved), the 2011 Lauers are juicier, the presentation of fruit is more staining - it feels longer and more coating.

The $26 Lauer Riesling "Senior" is one of the most eye-opening white wines out there, if you want to try just one bottle. This is a dry-tasting Riesling (11 grams of residual sugar) sourced from vines planted from 1910 to 1920. The old-vines speak; in 2011 this is a wine of immense depth, one of the more serious Seniors of the last few vintages. This is also seriously drinkable.

The Unterstenbersch has always been one of our favorites. If less immediately juicy, the Unterstenbersch tends to be a bit more narrow, a bit more delineated. In 2011 it has just about the same residual sugar (12 grams) with a slightly brighter, more mineral palate - there's a limey freshness that provides for great length and brightness.

Lauer - both the wines and the estate - is about the details. While the wines are among the most articulate and nuanced in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Florian (the winemaker) is as determined and uncompromising as the wines. With some important exceptions (Schonfels and Saarfeilser, for example), the estate's most important vineyard is the Ayler Kupp - an impressive wall of vines that runs east-west. Instead of dumbing it down and using the fame of this vineyard, Florian labels the bottles according to pre-1971 parcel names - thus we have, for example, the "Unterstenbersch."

If all this detail, this nuance, is a headache for the consumer, the merchant and even the importer (really - who can pronounce "Unterstenbersch?") - it's this same drive that inspires the detail within the wines themselves.

Lauer's philosophies and style are from a time before wine marketing and "fashion" - a time when bigger wasn't automatically assumed to be better and when small parcels were meaningful because the clientele was local and more intimate with the lay of the land. Thus "Unterstenbersch" had a very distinct meaning. We believe, along with Florian, that losing such names, losing such specific voices, is a small tragedy.

After all, it's the details that make things interesting.

If 2010 was a "winemaker's vintage," 2011 is a "wine drinker's vintage!" The quantities are much better than last year and the wines are just delicious. They are drinking well out of the gate and should power on for five to ten years and likely much longer.

Lauer is always very limited - for the moment, however, most requests should be possible. Please give us your maximum request and we'll do our best. All orders subject to confirmation.

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits