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When speaking about the weather extremes of the 2016 vintage in Germany, many winemakers reflected on the new normal of having record-breaking weather every year. In late spring and early summer of 2016, the deluge of rain made for Peronospora (downy mildew) troubles for many, especially those who farm organically. Also, if one chose to aggressively de-leaf for increased air flow against the mildew during the wet months, they faced sunburn of the grapes at the other end of summer. Because of such extremes, 2016 was a vintage made or lost in the vineyard. Winemakers making the right choices at the right time harvested high quality grapes, most with reduced yields. However, even with the best of intentions and skill, some suffered extremely low yields. For example, Weiser-Künstler, with vineyards in the Mittelmosel towns of Wolf, Enkirch, and Traben, caught the brunt of the Peronospora, reducing some vineyard yields to 10 hl/ha.
Florian Lauer experienced reduced yields as well, however the hot, long September helped bring phenolic ripeness and balance in the grapes, followed by favorable weather for harvest. Contrary to some of the lean and lifted 2016s tasted elsewhere, I found some of the Lauer wines to be just slightly fruitier and more giving than their 2015 counterparts. However, true to form, the electric acidity shines through, making for the incredible tension and balance we seek when drinking German Riesling. For those who've never tried Lauer wines, they reflect a distinct focus on the terroir of the Saar river valley, with a special attention to dry-tasting and off-dry wines--a true expression of each site through thoughtful farming and natural yeast fermentation in neutral vessels (more information here). For those who have followed the estate for years, 2016 is not to be missed, for early enjoyment and for aging. We are very pleased to offer a collection of Florian's luminescent wines!* Cari Bernard
*Mid-November arrival for some, see items below. GGs arrive early 2018, stay tuned!
Florian's 'Extry Dry' offering, sourced from the Ayler Kupp. Aromas of melon, apple skin, and tea--all green. A touch tight, but more giving than 2015, the palate is more yellow-fruited, with notes of pear, apple, stone, savory earth, and smoke on the long finish. Cari Bernard
Lauer ‘Senior’ is Florian’s nod to making a style of wine his grandfather (Peter Lauer Sr.) would enjoy. His aim is to make a feinherb, weeknight wine from 70-year-old, ungrafted vines on the Kupp. With each passing vintage, Senior always seems to over deliver--for the price, the level of complexity is outstanding. The nose is less fruit-forward than the palate, with notes of oatmeal and stone, herbs, and Fuji apple. The wine is vibrant and just slightly off-dry with a deft balance between fresh green and bold tropical flavors--green fig, underripe peach, and tart green plum with pineapple and white blossom. Cari Bernard
Covered in eroded gray slate, Unterstenberg 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. Notes of peach, orange zest, apple compote, and red grapefruit on the nose open up to a rich and fruit-forward palate boasting ripe apricot, yellow apple skin, and pineapple. Spicy and bold! Pair with grilled Thai curry squid, crab cakes over a citrus salad. Cari Bernard
Fass 15, Stirn (forehead), comes from near the top of the Ayler Kupp where the hill curves around; the cooler climate and wind at this altitude makes for a site that is often harvested last. We haven't had a chance to try a bottle yet but will report back as soon as we do! Cari Bernard
Kern is a parcel on the west-facing side of the Ayler Kupp, extending from the top to the bottom of the slope, a cross-section of slate at multiple levels of erosion, warmed by the afternoon sun. A tropical nose of kiwi and passion fruit, the wine has a sharp, juicy attack of white grapefruit zest and kumquat, balanced by notes of green herbs, salinity, and wet stone minerality on the finish. Cari Bernard
Lauer's portion of Neuenberg is located on the flank of the Kupp closer to the base of the slope. Piquant, with vibrant red grapefruit, tangerine, and apricot notes that continue onto the palate followed by ripe mango, peach candy, yuzu and orange zest with ginger spice on the lengthy finish. Complex and fruity with great tension! Cari Bernard
A delicate nose of apricot blossom and grapefruit zest, the Fass 8 Kabinett drinks fairly lean in style, with fantastic balance and elegant integration of the residual sugar. Cooler notes of green strawberries mingle on the finish with fresh nectarine, yuzu, and crisp apple. Cari Bernard
Lambertskirch is a parcel (not too far from Schonfels) that during its long history has gone from vines to fruit trees and forest overgrowth. The Lauer family rented vines on the hillside until the 1990s, when the owners chose to pull up the vines. Florian purchased the plot in 2010, cleared and replanted the 0.2 hectares in 2012 with old-vine cuttings from five different vineyards. 2016 marks the third vintage (second as Kabinett) from this predominately southeast-facing site where large pieces of gray slate litter the ground between the vines. Wisps of honeycrisp apple, key lime zest, nectarine, kiwi, and tiny white blossoms fill the nose, the palate is young and fresh, with cool minerality balancing the silky lime and kumquat oils, juicy tangerine, bitter pollen and green apple candy on the finish. Cari Bernard
Ripe, golden grapes picked from a range of vineyards on Ayler Kupp. We look forward to sharing notes with you soon! Cari Bernard