THE German Discovery of the Year: Lauer

Posted by CrushWine

INTRODUCING: Weingut Peter Lauer
Dry, Mineral Rieslings of Precision and Finesse
EASILY the Greatest Germany Discovery of the Year

Peter and Florian Lauer make uncompromising wines from one of the Saar's greatest sites. We've been obsessing about them since we first tasted them. We thought we were the first to discover this estate...until we found out that none other than David Schildknecht is the original fan.

Let's get right to the point.

On behalf of myself, Joe and Tom (who has mentioned, on more than several occasions, dreaming of the wines since first tasting them), I DECLARE, WITHOUT HESITATION, THAT WEINGUT LAUER IS THE MOST EXCITING GERMAN FIND IN MANY YEARS.

Warning: This is gonna be a long treatise on German wine, even by Crush standards. So many of you will just need to know that we simply cannot recommend these wines highly enough. They are a "must try" for German wine enthusiasts,though anyone inspired by terroir-driven whites will love Lauer. (Seriously: I can't fathom a Chablis fan who wouldn't be thrilled by the mineral purity of these chiseled Rieslings.)

This is Riesling in its brightest, most transparent form. This is Riesling as nimble, finessed, filigreed; Riesling as an uncompromising treatise in mineral and flowers. Lauer's wines are INTENSE, yet compact with detail and precision. Capturing the essence of these wines is exceedingly difficult - imagine a spiderweb, frozen in ice and infused with stone fruits and slate - or the beam of a laser, fashioned from porcelain and mineral.

They are NOT blockbusters, wines formed to be big for the sake of being big - subtly, elegance is the point. Florian has a great phrase: He wants to make "Rieslings for Advanced Learners."

They are also serious values. In the case of the "Senior" bottling, we're talking 80- to 90-year-old vines (many ungrafted) in one of the Saar's tops sites for about $25 a bottle. Because we are so excited about the wines of Lauer we are also featuring special pricing on an introductory 6-pack. (See below for all the details; special pricing ends Sunday.)

Those of you who are scared by the "sweet" reputation of German Riesling, have no concern - these wines brazenly ignore the whole silly issue. With around 13 grams of residual sugar, these wines are "halbtrocken," yet with their brisk, winter-morning acidities (the signature of a righteous Saar Riesling) they taste perfectly dry. Florian even labels both wines as "Trocken," meaning dry, a small gesture of rebellion against the 1971 German wine law.

Reading some old articles by David Schildknecht, I found a quote that perfectly captures the heart of the matter: "The soul of Riesling cannot be measured in grams sugar per liter."

Schildknecht is, as stated, the original Lauer fan. It's obvious enough that these wines are close to his heart. He has written: "It would be no exaggeration to say that I cut my teeth on Riesling from Peter and Julia Lauer's Ayler Kupp." Indeed, before Schildknecht became Robert Parker's go-to guy for Germany and Austria, he worked in a retail wine store and Lauer was one of the few estates he imported himself, for his own stock of course, but also for a few private customers.

In writing about Lauer's 2008s, with their balance of ripeness and delicacy, Schildknecht refers to "another era," a phrase that strikes exactly the right chord because these are traditional Saar Rieslings, made in the same fashion as they were by Florian's grandfather. They are ripe, concentrated and complex, yet delicacy is perhaps their greatest virtue.

At this point the phrase "traditional winemaking" is a cliché with almost no meaning - so with Lauer and the Saar let me be very specific. At Lauer, the wines find their own balance. Fermentations are allowed to run their course with little intervention, only natural yeasts are used. The wines are barrel selections (thus the usage of the word "Fass" below) sourced from the famous Ayler Kupp, one of the Saar's great vineyards. Yet instead of labeling them as such and grabbing the easy name-recognition, the Lauers choose to designate the wines according to the pre-1971 subparcels of this famous site - thus the "Unterstenbersch" reference. (For a thorough and excellent post by the Mosel Wine Merchant on Lauer and their pre-71 designations, click here.)

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.

The value here is just outstanding - both wines are of top quality yet neither is above $40.

To order, email us or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Stephen Bitterolf
Joe Salamone
Wine Buyers
Crush Wine & Spirits

Weingut Peter Lauer

2008 Riesling Fass 6 "Senior"

Compare at $26
This wine is sourced from 80- and 90-year-old vines (some of which are ungrafted) in the western-most section of the Kupp, called the "Neuanlage," meaning "new section." Keep in mind this "new section" was planted around 1900! Fifteen different plots are used which total only a scant .6 hectare! This bottling takes the name "Senior" in honor of Florian's grandfather, who would always taste all the barrels before bottling and select one for himself, which was then called the "Senior wine." It is a tribute to Florian's grandfather, as well as to the winemaking traditions which he passed on to his son Peter, and then down to Florian.

2008 Riesling Fass 12 "Unterstenbersch"

Compare at $36
The "Unterstenbersch" is sourced from a pre-1971 parcel in the Ayler Kupp called the Untersten Berg. It is, quite simply, one of the best parcels in the Ayler Kupp with a near-perfect Southern exposure. The vines are around 50-years-old. This parcel, toward the bottom of the hill has heavy deposits of weathered slate, and you can taste it. This is perhaps the more mineral, the more finessed of the two bottlings - this wine has a profound expression of slate. It is incredibly kinky, lacy with thin layers of stone fruit, ripe peach, apricot. Beautiful floral aromatics, incredible energy and lightness. Damn near ethereal yet staining on the palate - go figure. It is just an incredible wine.

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