1994 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett

3/20/2007 -

One of the great things about Hanno Zilliken is that he always has loads and loads of back vintages in his cellar. His wines age very slowly because the cellar is more than ideal for aging wine. It is very moist due to water seeping in naturally through the walls,and has extremely high humidity so there are stalagmites growing from the ceiling. It is quite a site to see. Hanno will release around three or four lots each year of wines that he deems are ready to drink.

The Saarburger Rausch is a vineyard comprised of Devon slate, red loam, iron and is completely planted to Riesling. Hanno is the primary landowner of the vineyard and by far the most prolific producer. Of the 34 hectares he owns 20 of them. Saarburger Rausch is extremely steep and faces south so the exposure is perfect. Hanno is obsessive in his vineyard management with great attention to pruning and hand-harvesting. It is easily one of the finest vineyards in the Saar and can definitely be included in the top rank with Scharzhofberger, Oberemeller Hutte & Wiltinger Braune Kupp.

This year's release is the 1994 Saarburger Rausch Kabinett and it is drinking absolutely brilliantly now. Zilliken's style can be described as restrained, linear and focused with crystalline purity. They exhibit great terroir with a dusty character, superb balance and have excellent aging potential. 1994 was a great vintage for the Saar... maybe not as crisp and cracklin' as 1993 but pretty good on its own merits.

A bottle that I tasted recently exceeded my expectations. The nose was earthy and extremely mineral with some nice aromas of white flowers and apple fruit. The palate is creamy and rich with a beautiful texture supported by brilliant acidity and a long echoing finish. This wine is drinking perfectly now but I would not be adverse to squirreling away a couple in the cellar and forgetting about them for five more years.

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