Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peter Lauer's Riesling "Senior" Fass 6

Here's a little something I've been wanting to try ever since first reading about it at the Mosel Wine Merchant blog. MWM principal Lars Carlberg's writeup goes well beyond describing the wine in question; it also details the history of the pertinent vineyard, maps out its various parcels and even gets into the etymology of the names given to each part of the site. If this is salesmanship, it's salesmanship at its best, and a textbook example of what — along with the regularly featured, stunning photography by Lars' friend, Tobias Hannemann — makes the MWM blog one of my required reads. It's the kind of post that really gets my mouth watering.

I had only to wait for the wine to enter the US market, then for a bottle to make its way into my shopping cart and, from there, eventually to find its way onto my own table....

Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling "Senior" Faß 6, Weingut Peter Lauer 2008
$26. 11.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Mosel Wine Merchant, via USA Wine Imports, New York, NY.
Showing gorgeous clarity in the glass, "Senior" delivers a deeply penetrating nose of minerals, green aples and gooseberry. Those aromas actually set up much steelier expectations relative to what first meets the palate, as there's some serious richness to the wine's mouthfeel. Behind that weight, though, is a blade of acidity that drives waves of lemon-lime fruit across the tongue, leading to a long, sweet-and-sour lemon drop finish.

As Lars mentioned in his post, "Senior" is "dry-tasting" for a wine that, with 13 grams of residual sugar, is technically halbtrocken. Yet to my palate, it's not quite "trocken-tasting," either. Though Florian Lauer designates the wine as trocken (I wonder if it's labeled that way on the German market), here in the US there is no dryness designation at all, save what can be guessed at via the wine's stated alcohol level. In the end, classic Saar delicacy and acid/sweetness balance wins out, but there's no mistaking the fact that Lauer's old vines (80-90 years) have delivered intense physiological extract.

A day later, the wine's aromas had shifted more into the dark end of the slate and mineral spectrum, also moving away from citrus and toward pit fruit scents of canned peach and fresh apricot. Showing less zingy, more muscular acidity, the wine was indeed more clearly dry tasting, day one's confectioner's dusting having disappeared/integrated into the wine's core.

I'd love to drink this with pan-seared scallops in a beurre blanc sauce. Or perhaps pair it, as I did with the similarly balanced bottle of Emrich-Schönleber's "Lenz" that I wrote up not long ago, with a simple dinner of pork chops and baked potatoes. On this occasion, I enjoyed it with two entirely different dishes: cheese and onion pierogies with peas and sautéed onions on day one, and green chile and cheese tamales on day two. Just for fun, anyone care to guess which pairing worked better... and hazard an explanation as to why?


cashed said...

Isn't Riesling grand?!

Lars Carlberg said...

Thanks for your gracious and well-written post.

Depending on the day or bottle, Lauer "Senior" can taste sometimes drier, but I would agree with you that it's halbtrocken (off-dry).

I also made an additional comment on our original blog post. You're correct. Most of his paper strips wrapped below the lip of the bottle have no "trocken" designation rather only the cursive words: "steillage" ["steep site"] and "handverlesen" ["hand picked"].

My colleague, Dan, and I feel Florian Lauer is one of the finest growers in the Mosel-Saar.

Merry Xmas,

David McDuff said...

Absolutely, cashed.

And thank you, Lars. Such good wine makes the writing easy. "Steillage" and "handverlesen" are exactly the terms that appeared on the neck strips on my bottle, echoing the terms on the main label. They're also terms I've not seen used on many if any other German producers' labels.

Looking over the full portfolio on the Lauers' website, I'm surprised, given the age of the vines for Fass 6, that they don't include it among their "alte reben" bottlings.

Obviously, I'd be happy to have your feedback on the above....

A belated Merry Xmas and early wishes for a Happy New Year,

Lars Carlberg said...

That's a very good question. My guess is that "Senior," despite having some of the oldest vines, is less site specific than Unterstenbersch, Stirn, and the other old-vine bottlings.

"Senior" comes from diverse plots in one sector of the Kupp hillside. But I'll ask Florian about this and the strip designations.

Lars Carlberg said...

The main difference for Florian Lauer between "Senior" and his old-vine, gold-edition wines is the exposition. Unterstenbersch, Stirn, Kern, Schonfels, and Saarfeilser are all "grand cru." They're his best sites. The diverse plots for "Senior" are to the west of Kern. As with "Senior," he has other very good (green-edition) wines that also come from parcels located in different sections of the original Kupp hillside, including a well-located plot planted with younger vines in Herrenberg (a former site in today's Kupp). The grapes from these vines make his Fass 2 trocken. As the vines get older, this will surely become one of his best wines.

In regard to the strips under the lip of the bottle, he discontinued using the terms "trocken" and "feinherb," because the cellar authorities warned him that wines that aren't officially under 9 grams/liter residual sugar cannot have the term "trocken." So, he just writes "handverlesen" with "steillage" now.

David McDuff said...


Thanks again for all the great information, and thanks as well to Florian.

The answer to my question about the neck labels is exactly what I expected and is what prompted me to ask the question in the first place, as I'd have been very surprised if the German wine authorities were to turn a blind eye on labeling halbtrocken and/or feinherb wines as trocken, no matter how dry the wines taste.

As for the explanation of the reasoning behind the green (lagenweine) and gold (alte reben) label lines, while it could be argued that Lauer is simply doing what the market demands and/or will bear, I tend to look at it with respect, as an expression of Lauer's pride in and expression of terroir and of a desire to present high quality levels at the more "basic" end of the portfolio.

I'll look very much forward to trying more of his wines in the future.

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