Schonfels and Neuenbersch
The Greatest Dry Rieslings of the Saar?
To the question above, our answer is yes.
If the wines of Florian Lauer have gone cult (and they have), these are THE two cult bottlings.
We were the first store in the U.S. to get any Schonfels, taking down just about EVERY bottle that came into the country - which in 2009 was a paltry ten cases. Last year, quantities weren't much better. These are rare, rare bottles.
In the case of the Schonfels, we are talking about 100-year-old, ungrafted vines in one of the most dramatic vineyards in all of Germany, a steep site that meets a sheer rock face and then drops straight down into the Saar River (see the picture to the right).
In the case of the Neuenbersch, we are talking about one of the historically greatest and most expensive parcels in the Ayler Kupp. This wine has very quickly become one of the top bottlings in the Lauer collection. In 2010, it may have been the absolute tops.
Both wines are very simply some of the greatest dry-tasting Riesling being made in all of Germany.
The trajectory of this winery has been nothing short of astounding. Although David Schildknecht has to be given credit for "discovering" this estate in the 80s, Schildknecht was maybe ahead of his time - it wasn't until the estate was reintroduced to the U.S. in 2009 that things went crazy.
And this is not just a U.S. phenomenon - Lauer's reputation in Germany has also skyrocketed and although Florian told us as early as March that his application to the VDP (THE elite growers association in Germany) was accepted, the official decision has only recently been made. Lauer will be VDP as of the 2012 vintage. This is big.
The style at Lauer is undeniable, these wines have a signature. This is Riesling in its brightest, most transparent form. This is Riesling as nimble, finessed, filigreed; Riesling as an uncompromising treatise in mineral and flowers. Lauer's wines are INTENSE, yet compact with detail and precision.
They are NOT blockbusters, wines formed to be big for the sake of being big - subtlety, elegance is the point. Florian has a great phrase: He wants to make "Rieslings for Advanced Learners."
|Neuenbersch, in the distance...
How do the two wines differ?
In the juicy-delicious 2011 vintage, the Schonfels has an uncanny seriousness, a dark, pregnant nose, a little bit of a nutty earthiness, mineral, golden apple, melon, spice, even curry and red fruits – raspberry and cherry. While this is still Lauer - cut and finesse in spades, this is a powerhouse of a Riesling. The palate is staining, elegant, well-defined and incredibly flavorful, juicy and dense. Harvested at 100 Oechsle, with only eight grams of sugar and 6.5 acidity, this is a true Saar Trocken yet on its own level in terms of weight, depth and complexity.
The Neuenbersch is a bit harder to pin down; it is slinky and in 2011 has a touch of very clean botrytis that gives it a dazzling accent, something that seems three dimensional and incredibly complex. It is perhaps the finer of the two wines, yet still powerful and super-concentrated. This is a beautiful mystery that will need some time to be fully accessible.
Both wines are the best of the Saar, the best of Germany. Simply epic Rieslings and as close to a must-have as any Riesling gets!
Both are also very rare. Give us your dream order and we'll do our best.
To order, please email us at email@example.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
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