John Paul Kaminga
Criminality: Behind Saars
Updated: Feb 19, 2022
... a customer recently mentioned that our still having a few extraordinary wines was "criminal", and we couldn't have agreed more, so we're here to put you all behind Saars, we sure as heck are over here at Craft and Cru...
We're interested in all of the wine regions of Germany, but we're a bit obsessed with the Saar River Valley. The Saar is historically lumped in with the Mosel, but really has its own identity that deserves special recognition. The Saar has well-exposed sunny sites, this is what is needed to make great wine in such a northerly clime, but its hillsides are not as protected from wind, as are the canyon-like environs of the famous Mittelmosel. The windier sites of the Saar might be at a disadvantage in cooler vintages, but lately they have excelled in warm vintages like 2018, 2019 and 2020. We make a point to source all of the best Saar wine we can find, and we have some fabulous 2020s for you to check out. Some of them are not inexpensive, but in the context of the world's great wines, they must be counted as incredible values. Based on what is happening in the Rieslingsphere these days, I would not be surprised if some of these wines fetched much higher prices in a few years.
Falkenstein Riesling Auslese 'Euchariusberg' AP17 2020 - $45
I have no idea how this is not sold out yet, as every other 2020 Falkenstein Riesling sold out immediately. I think people assume it will be very sweet, but it is actually less sweet than many Spätlese. Falkenstein's 2020 Auslese also appears to be a special and rare style: a jungfernwein, which is a wine made from the first harvest of young vines, and if this is the case it is something which may never be repeated at Falkenstein in our lifetimes. If you listen to the podcast I'll Drink to That #259, which is an interview with Carl Von Schubert of Maximin Grunhaus, you will be able to glean a bit more info about jungfernwein. At some point Von Schubert mentions jungfernwein, and describes the concept. The conditions have to be just right and a special sweet wine can be made from seedless grapes. This wine was made from the first crop of young vines, so I have to think that the crew at Falkenstein had the concept of jungfernwein in mind, but I'm not sure about that. What I am sure of, however, is that this is a gorgeous wine worth saving for a couple decades.
Lauer Riesling Kabinett 'Lambertskirch' Fass 14 2020 - $42
This is an archetypal Saar wine: delicately sweet, with a strong acid and mineral core, copious herbal notes, airy florality, ultra-pure fresh fruit... It will be incredibly versatile with food, and it will age beautifully for at least 10 years, if not 20.
Lauer Riesling Kabinett 'Kupp' Fass 8 2020 - $36
From a prime sector on the famous Ayler Kupp, a large hill that has long been considered one of the great vineyard sites of Germany. Like the Lambertskirch above, this is classic Saar, with deep acid cut, fresh fruit, and myriad airy herbal and floral nuances. Like the Lambertskirch it will be a joyful exercise to follow this wine over the next 10 to 20 years.
Zilliken Riesling Kabinett 'Rausch' AP3 - $33
From another historic site, the Saarburger Rausch, this kabinett is richer and riper than those from Lauer, featuring more peach and tropical notes. It is, however, zippy and fresh as Saar should be, with a strong mineral character and beautiful wafting floral and herbal nuances. This will be a brilliant pairing for spicy dishes of all sorts, and it will be worth following for at least 10 years.
Zilliken Riesling trocken 'Alte Reben' AP11 - $39
Zilliken did not make any Grosses Gewächs (top of the line dry wines that would go for $60+) in 2020, so their best trocken-designated fruit went into this Alte Reben (old vine) bottling. From 60 to 130 year-old vines in the Rausch, this is a very special dry Riesling. Bold and juicy, with ripe stone fruit and citrus notes accented by fresh herbs, citrus pith and spice. Supple and smooth on the palate, with pleasant acid cut and a firmly dry finish, this is in a good spot now, but will be worth following 5 to 10 years, maybe longer.
We have more Saar than what we offer above, check out our website or consult us to ask about more options. If you put together a case (12 bottles) of Saar, we'll offer 15% off your purchase.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to place your orders or inquiries.