Punch: Meet the Who's Who of Wine Cool
I'll Drink to That!: Episode 174: Florian Lauer
SF Gate: New German Rieslings Somewhere Between Dry and Sweet
Mosel Fine Wines: 2014er Peter Lauer Ayler Schonfels Riesling Fass 11 GG
Terroirist: Tasting Peter Lauer's Riesling Barrel X
For purists, there is nothing like the Saar. Saar shows intensity without weight, grandiosity without size: rocks and acidity. 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. Peter Lauer, founded in 1830, is currently one of greatest estates in this sacred place.
Lauer brothers Florian and Peter III currently run the Peter Lauer estate. Florian Lauer completed oenological studies at the École Nationale in Montpellier, France in 2005. Florian has moved his family’s winery away from the style of their famous neighbors Egon Müller and Zilliken. The estate focuses on dry and dry-tasting Riesling as opposed to the residual sugar (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese) wines of the latter two. Yet the hallmarks are similar: purity, precision, rigor, mineral.
The Lauer family estate is located in Ayl. Ayl is a small village on the west side of the Saar River. The estate is planted exclusively to Riesling; some parcels are around a century old. The great majority of wines are sourced from the famed Ayler Kupp. Ayler Kupp is a single mountain that has an intricate tapestry of parcels and sub-parcels. Florian uses the pre-1971 vineyard names to designate and highlight these parcels. Florian wants to give each terroir the chance to express its personality. Kern, Stirn, Neuenbersch, and Unterstenbersch are all sub-parcels of the famous Kupp. Schonfels and Saarfeilser, though classified as part of the Ayler Kupp by current German wine law, are distinct and separate sites. To Florian’s credit, he treats them as such. Florian also uses cask numbers known as “fass” to designate his wines. The fass numbers are primarily based on the parcels that historically went into specific wines. For example, ‘Fass 6 – Senior’ is based on a selection that Florian’s grandfather (Peter I) made every year. As the patriarch of the family, he would taste through the vintage and select one barrel for his personal consumption. On this barrel, he would write ‘Senior.’ According to Florian, 8-9 times out of 10, his grandfather would pick fass 6 (cask 6), which held wine sourced from the western-most region of the Kupp. Thus, today, the wine from this particular parcel is called ‘Fass 6 – Senior.’
Florian is a minimalist in their cellar. The only interventions are temperature control, a clarification prior to fermentation and battonage (stirring of the lees). The grapes ferment spontaneously with native yeast. Lees contact is allowed as well as some partial malolactic fermentation. As he describes it, "I don't look for malo but I don't avoid try to avoid it. It just happens in parallel." This approach takes the edge out of the acidity, and if done with care, doesn’t add simplifying lactic notes. The end results are undeniable: depth, texture, dimension, and clarity.
In 2013, the winery became a member of Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VdP), which is an organization where most (but not all) of Germany's top wine producers are members.