For purists, there is nothing like the Saar. It is arguably one of the greatest, most unique wine-growing regions on earth. The core of greatness in the Saar is intensity without weight, grandiosity without size. Frank Schoonmaker put it best in his 1956 tome The Wines of Germany: “In these great and exceedingly rare wines of the Saar, there is a combination of qualities which I can perhaps best describe as indescribable – austerity coupled with delicacy and extreme finesse, an incomparable bouquet, a clean, very attractive hardness tempered by a wealth of fruit and flavor which is overwhelming.”
Yes, this is the Saar and Florian Lauer is currently one of the greatest winemakers in this sacred place.
Florian’s general style is exactly the opposite of his famous Saar neighbor Egon Müller. At Lauer, the focus is on dry-tasting Rieslings as opposed to the residual sugar wines of the latter. For this style, there are really only two addresses in the Saar (though more come online every year, trying to chase the style): Lauer and Hofgut Falkenstein.
Employing natural-yeast fermentations, Lauer’s wines find their own balance. They tend to be more textural, deeper and more masculine. They have a preternatural sense of balance, an energy that is singular. Yet the hallmarks of the Saar are there: purity, precision, rigor, mineral.
“Barrel X” is winemaker Florian Lauer’s Platonic ideal of what a slightly off-dry (feinherb) Saar Riesling should be. If we were in Burgundy, this would be the equivalent of a “Bourgogne Blanc.” As an appellation-level wine, it is sourced from multiple vineyards in four different villages of the Saar: Ayl (Lauer’s home village), Saarburg, Wawern and Wiltingen. Florian says, “From Ayl and Wawern, the wine gains the fruit and power, from Saarburg the racy acidity, and from Wiltingen, the spice.”
Regardless of what comes from where, this much is certain: dollar for dollar, I’m not sure there is a 750ml bottle that delivers as much joy and zing. This is the gateway drug to Lauer, to the Saar, to Riesling… be careful. Very addictive.