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It's Lauer time! This year, we will kick the article off with remarks on Florian Lauer, from beloved former colleagues John Ritchie and Cari Bernard, whose articles I would have researched in order to say something in my own voice about these wines! We follow with some prose on the 2022 Lauers from our friend Stephen Bitterolf, of Vom Boden, the importer of these fine wines. Finally, you'll reach the wines, which do include occasional tasting notes from Mosel Fine Wines, a legendary independent review of Mosel wines (and related topics!). These notes provide astute observations and descriptions of the wines in place of any in house tasting notes (our norm), as we have simply not had the chance to try these all. We applaud the extensive work that Jean Fisch, David Rayer, and many others have put into the site. Thanks! And now, without further ado.........
"Florian Lauer has been working as primary wine maker at Lauer for the past several years, continuing the estate's five-generation tradition of artisanal, single vineyard wine from the steep slopes of Ayler Kupp in the Saar. These are singular wines, most of which are site-specific according to the traditional sub-sections of Ayler Kupp. They almost entirely fermented with wild yeasts to feinherb levels with low alcohol. Their mineral-driven delicacy is balanced by impressive concentration resulting from extended time on the lees, and the precision and focus typical of the high-acid Saar. These wines are simply some of the most impressive to cross our palates in recent memory." John Ritchie from a 2011 article
"Florian Lauer is a font of knowledge, which flows from him with such casual confidence, that it becomes clear that he is deeply invested in all the facets of his life’s work. Looking back at my notes on the wines, there is a lot to revisit. Thank goodness for notes. I would have never remembered off-hand that Lambertskirch was replanted using selection massale cuttings from 5 different old vine vineyards along the Mosel, or that this was the specific tasting in which Tobias coined my new favorite Riesling tasting term "dog-whistle acidity." I don't have a photographic memory (or even that great of a short-term one), but I do remember on a visceral level how much I loved these wines, some of which were still barrel samples at the time. A few of those bottles won't be with us until January or February, but until then, we have lots to drink!
Along with the Grosses Gewächs (GG) bottlings, Weingut Peter Lauer is known for their dry-tasting wines: those Rieslings that do not ferment fully trocken, but have enough acidity to be harmonious and bright, not saccharine and cloying. The Saar is an ideal region for this style, with cooler winds helping to temper the sunny weather, keeping acidity levels high in the grapes. Florian is currently farming some of the finest sites in the Saar, and has taken huge steps to preserve their integrity. He has gone so far as to petition to be able to use the original site names on his labels, which from 1971 until 2014, wasn’t allowed by law." Cari Bernard, from a 2016 article
"For purists, there is nothing like the Saar. The magic here is intensity without weight, grandiosity without size: rocks and acidity. Lauer is currently one of greatest estates in this sacred place. The style here is 180 degrees removed from his famous neighbors Egon Müller and Zilliken. The focus here is on dry and dry-tasting Riesling. While the source of most of the bottlings is the famed Ayler Kupp, Florian uses the pre-1971 vineyard names – Neuenberg, Stirn, Unterstenberg. Rigorous vineyard work, indigenous yeasts and spontaneous fermentations mean the wines find their own balance. The results are undeniable: depth, texture, dimension, clarity, CUT...
For reasons that I'll explain in an updated vintage report (to be published soon), I think I under-valued the 2022 vintage. Some of this is what I'll call "greatness fatigue." Fatigue not only after the truly epic vintage 2021 with all its superlatives, but after years and years of constant email offers, Instagram posts, all of them touting "the greatest" this or that, proclaiming another 99- or 100-point wine with big bold type and exclamation points.
I guess I just wanted a reset - some real talk.
I did everything I could not to use the word "great" in describing 2022. I reported what I thought was vital and central to the wines of this vintage, which was joy and lightness and energy. Yet I spent the last month in Germany, not only tasting with everyone again, but in many cases lazily drinking with these people again - not assessing, but enjoying, thinking reflectively and quietly about all these wines. I had two realizations. First, I think the vintage is much more serious than I first reported. Everything I wrote still holds - the wines are lightness and joy incarnate - but I think they can also be in some cases quite serious.
My second realization was that Florian Lauer's collection is absolutely astounding; for me personally it might be my favorite collection he's ever made. It's just the extreme lightness, their ethereal quality. Not to get too geeky, but it may have something to do with the acidities. 2021, while ferociously acidic, had high amounts of malic acid. When doing natural and slow ferments, as Lauer does, it's possible and even probable that certain barrels went through malolactic, giving the wines a creamier texture and lowering the feel of the acid. 2022, in comparison, had very low amounts of malic acid. Thus any malolactic conversions that occurred didn't really change the shape of the wines; they remain uncannily sharp, incisive, linear, agile.
If 2021 at Lauer is a rocket ship, thundering forward with weight and momentum, 2022 is an arrow, weightless and cutting with a razor-sharp point. It's quite possible that in 20 years, the 2021ers from Lauer will embarrass the 2022ers - the monuments standing tall next to the feather-weight sculptures of 2022. It's possible, but I just don't know. Regardless, for the next five to ten years and more, the 2022ers simply have an edge; they are more crystalline, more multifaceted, sharper, lighter, more explosive and energetic." - Stephen Bitterolf, Vom Boden Wines, 2023
And now the wines! If you find anything to be either low or out of stock once you get to this list, please email us with any requests.
From Vom Boden Wines: "Think of this as a dry "Barrel X" - it's the village-level dry wine sourced from two sites (Scheidterberg and Rauberg) that circle around the backside of the village. Historically a bit chilly, these sites are now coming into a glorious place... For 2022 this is cut and clear and vigorous with a pronounced acidity - old-school Saar!" /////// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue #66: "The 2022er Ayler Riesling No. 25 is a dry wine (with 6 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked on the Scheidterberg and Rauberg side hills."
From Vom Boden: "This is only the second Kabinett Lauer has ever made from the Schonfels vineyard; interestingly, this is sleek and mineral, but does have a cake-icing slickness to it, along with cut and grip." /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue No. 66: "The 2022er Schonfels Kabinett No. 111 was made from fruit harvested in this steep, south-east facing Lieu-Dit overseeing the Saar, and was fermented down to fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (53 g/l)."
From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue #66: "The 2022er Ayler Riesling No. 1 is an off-dry wine (with 14 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit harvested on the east-facing side of the main Ayler Kupp hill."
Sourced from a parcel adjacent to Stirn on the Ayler Kupp, Fass 3 is that electric, ever-so-slightly off-dry Saar Riesling we love: bright notes of juicy tangerine and nectarine are focused and practically shimmer on the palate. A lively pairing for ceviche, fried chicken, salty snacks, dry hot pot. -Cari Bernard // From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue No. 66: "The 2022er Ayler Riesling No. 3 is an off-dry wine (with 31 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked in the front, east-facing part of the original Kupp hill, in the upper section near Stirn."
Covered in eroded gray slate, the south-southwest facing Unterstenberg lieu-dit is the site on the Ayler Kupp that has some of the most water retention due to its location at the foot of the hillside. Due to this, it is often one of the bolder and fuller of the dry wines from Lauer. /// From Vom Boden: Over the 15+ years I've been closely following Florian's wines the Unterstenberg (sourced from the lower part of the Kupp mountain, "unter" the "berg") has shed sugar, from a bit under 20, to then 15 and even lower. The wine is completely dry for 2022 at around 9 grams residual sugar. I love it in this dry / drier form, with the schmaltzy, glycerin depth of the mid-palate emphasized and defined by the acidity's cut and lift. /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue #66: "The 2022er Unterstenberg No. 12, as it is referred to in the central part of the label, is a dry wine (with 8 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked in the similarly-named prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, front part of the original Kupp hill (at the foot of the hill). The wine is superbly playful and refined on the palate, where some light creamy and juicy elements make for an appealing touch. "
From old vines (70 year-old +) across the Kupp on the western-most side. /// From Vom Boden: "Kern" is named after the 19th-century industrialist that cleared this more-western part of the Kupp; it is a small parcel that spans the entire top-to-bottom reach of the Kupp. Thus, for me, the wine always has something of the lift and rigor of "Stirn" and something of the depth of wines like "Neuenberg" and "Unterstenberg." /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue #66: "The 2022er 'Kern' No. 9, as it is referred to in the central part of the label, is a fully off-dry wine (with 33 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked in a complete cross section (bottom to top) of a prime south-west-facing old-vine parcel (called Kern) situated well into the side valley on the original Ayler Kupp hill. It offers a beautifully refined and herbal nose of wild spices, orange blossom, mint, lime, and white pepper, as well as slightly riper notes of vineyard peach candied grapefruit, and almond. The wine is superbly playful on the elegantly zesty and spicy palate. The finish proves energetic, refined, and straight. The after-taste is already dryish in style. This is a great just off-dry tasting Riesling."
Southwest facing Fass 15, Stirn (forehead), comes from near the top of the Ayler Kupp where the hill curves around. The cooler, windier microclimate and meager soils allow for a later harvest, with the resulting wine offering more fruit and generosity. /// From Vom Boden: "For me, this is always one of Lauer's most angelic, soaring wines. Sourced from the top of the Kupp mountain, the vines here are battered by the wind and there is little soil and little water; it is a struggle up here. The wine, however, shows a soaring tension, and an amazing linearity." /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue #66: "The 2022er 'Stirn' No.15, as it is referred to in the central part of the label, is a fully off-dry wine (with 36 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked in the prime south-west-facing, upper-front part of the original Ayler Kupp hill. The wine proves fully off dry on the palate as plenty of sweet and ripe fruits come through. The finish is structured and has more mineral elements with zesty and minty elements."
From Vom Boden website: "As with the "Unterstenberg," the "Neuenberg" this year comes in close to dry and is one of the more curious wines Florian makes. It is sourced from a cherry parcel in the Grand Cru Kupp, one that sees the cool morning sun as well as the warmer afternoon sun and, situated as it is at the bottom of the slope, it can often have a bit of mist or fog lingering about. Sometimes there is just a touch of early botrytis that Florian will keep in the wine, adding to it a certain exotic textural component, glycerin polished down to its mineral core. It is a profound testament to what Lauer can do, and what Riesling can do." /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue No. 66: "The 2022er Neuenberg is a barely off-dry wine (with 12 g/l of residual sugar) made from fruit picked in this prime Lieu-Dit forming the south-southwest facing, central part of the original Kupp hill (at the foot of the hill). There is good presence and structure and the finish proves intense and broad. It is a great barely off-dry Riesling, which needs a few years to reveal its facets."
From Vom Boden: "Absolutely nuts-o wine in 2022 - these are maybe the best Kabinetts Lauer has ever made? Which makes zero sense after 2021, I understand this, but still... it's the lightness. And to prove just how absolutely nuts Lauer is, he made two Fuders of this wine and did not like the combined wine, so he is bottling them with separate AP numbers. Note: I have no idea what we're getting and we are not going to make a stink about this - and you shouldn't either. But what is beautiful about this is Lauer's unwillingness to follow any ideology. Sometimes he finds blending casks better - sometimes not." /// From Mosel Fine Wines, Issue No. 66: "The 2022er Kupp Kabinett No. 8, as it is referred to in the central part of the label, was made from fruit harvested in the original Kupp hill and was fermented down to fruity-styled levels of residual sugar (49 g/l). This is a great drinking Kabinett with superb complexity."