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  • January 10, 2018
  • A Selection of 2017 Saar Rieslings from Hofgut Falkenstein

  • by Lars Carlberg

A cask of 2017 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Kabinett trocken.

The Weber family farms about 8 hectares of mainly old Riesling vines—over 1 hectare ungrafted—in a side valley of the Saar. All the Riesling grapes are hand-harvested and the whole grapes are gently pressed in a pneumatic press for two to three hours. The musts are left overnight to settle naturally and are vinified with ambient yeasts in 1,000-liter oak Fuder casks. Their top vineyard sites are located on various south-facing slopes, including the once highly prized wines from Niedermenniger Herrenberg and Krettnacher Euchariusberg. The soil is primarily gray slate, with some quartz. The father-and-son team of Erich and Johannes Weber don’t use herbicides and believe in low yields (one flat cane per vine) to produce an array of dry (trocken), off-dry (feinherb), and sweet Saar wines—all of which are cask-by-cask bottlings. Below is a list of the 2017 Saar Rieslings, with a few short descriptions:

2017 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken
Fuder Egon, Udo, A-Stamm: yeasty, sage, yellow fruits. AP 19
Fuder Mutter Anna, Meyer Sydney: anise; brioche, umami, salty, lime. AP 1
Fuder A-Stamm, Serriger, Herbert (old, ungrafted vines). AP 22

2017 Oberemmeler Karlsberg Riesling Kabinett trocken
Fuder Carl(s)berg: green apple, spritzy, mouth-watering; bone-dry. AP 17

2017 Niedermenniger Sonnenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken
Fuder Muny, Kleiner Klaus: sponti, stony, flinty, and fine. AP 9

2017 Krettnacher Altenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken
Fuder Altenberg: herbal, yeasty, and saline. AP 7

2017 Krettnacher Ober Schäfershaus Riesling Spätlese trocken
Halbfuder (500 liters) Lorenz Manni: grapefruit, grip, fine. AP 18

2017 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett feinherb
Fuder Schilly: aromatic, unadorned, and nervy. AP 21
Fuder Meyer Nepal: lime, minty, elegant. AP 11

2017 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb
Fuder Pio, Herbert (both plots in Langenberg): mirabelle plum, very fine. AP 23
Fuder Onkel Peter (old, ungrafted vines in Zuckerberg): tobacco leaf, dense. AP 4
Fuder Palm, Meyer, Deutschen: fennel, laurel, creamy, and spicy. AP 3
Fuder Kaselshaidchen: floral, gooseberry, bright. AP 15

2017 Niedermenniger Im Kleinschock Riesling Kabinett
Fuder Kleinschock (ungrafted vines): wild garlic, elderflower, almost dry-tasting. AP 20

2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Kabinett
Fuder Kugel Peter: icy, crystalline, and subtle. AP 12

2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Kabinett “Alte Reben”
Fuder Gisela (old, ungrafted vines): leaf-green herbs, pepper, yellow fruits, super-long. AP 8

2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Spätlese
Fuder Klaus Lang: silky, fine, and complex. AP 6
Fuder Förster, Ternes: both lift and tension; razor sharp. AP 14

2017 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese
Fuder Großschock Kupp: piquant and juicy. AP 5

The AP numbers (with the bottling number in a large, bold print) specify the individual casks, which, for the most part, are nicknamed after the former owner of a given plot; a few are site names, such as Kleinschock. Depending on the size of the parcel and the yield, some casks comprise the grapes from two or more parcels in a given sector. It needs to be enough for one press load. Almost all the wines—which are bottled off of the gross lees with minimal pumping—come from old vines, even if the Webers choose to designate only the one Euchariusberg Kabinett as “Alte Reben.” Because they don't chaptalize any of their wines (including trocken and feinherb), they indicate this with a Prädikat. ♦

  • Niedermenniger Herrenberg (including Zuckerberg), Niedermenniger Sonnenberg, Krettnacherberg (Krettnacher Altenberg), and Euchariusberg were all well-known sites in the late 19th century. On Clotten’s Viticultural Map of the Saar and Mosel, the original Euchariusberg (also known as Großschock) was colored dark red and was already classified higher than most other sites on the Saar many years before. It was one of the few vineyards, with the exception of Bockstein and the Scharzhofberg, that was listed without a village or town designation. Großschock also designates the south-facing hillside of Euchariusberg.

    Below are some old references that list Euchariusberg among the best sites on the Saar (and Mosel):

    In Das Weinbuch by Wilhelm Hamm, printed in 1874, he ranks the vineyard sites (villages) as follows: “First Class: Brauneberg, Pisport, Laurentiusberg, Trarbach, Zeltingen, Oligsberg, Dusemont [Brauneberg], Berkasteler Doctor, Trier (Thiergärtner, Avelsbacher, Olewig-Neuberger in the city district; in the administrative district: Rauler, Agritiusberger, Krettnacher, Könener [red], Euchariusberger, Caseler, Josefshöfer), Grünhäuser. Second Class: Wehlen, Graach, Erden, Thronerhofberger, Uerzig, Kröver, Kienheim.”

    In Moselwein (1897), Karl Heinrich Koch wrote “[t]he valley that stretches east from Wiltingen, the Oberemmeler Valley, is also very important. The valley cuts a wide swath through this landscape, which the geologist [Heinrich] Grebe conjectures constitutes the primordial riverbed of an arm of the Mosel that flowed through here in prehistoric times. Along this stretch belong the sites of Oberemmel, with the renowned parcels Rosenberg [Rosenkamm], Agritiusberg (at the church), Raul, Lautersberg, and Junkerberg; Krettnach; as well as Ober- and Niedermenning with the excellent sites of Euchariusberg and Zuckerberg.”

    In Die Weine im Gebiete der Mosel und Saar, Friedrich Wilhelm Koch (1898) cited, in this order, “Bockstein, Geisberg, Scharzhofberg, Scharzberg [now a part of the enlarged Scharzhofberg], Raul, Oberemmel, Euchariusberg, Wawerner Herrenberg, and Ayler Kupp.”

    “The finest vineyards of the Saar are on the right bank of the river, from Geisberg in the south to Euchariusberg in the north,” André L. Simon wrote in Wine and the Wine Trade (1921).

    In the Fourteenth Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 15 (1929), there is the following passage in the entry on Mosel wines: “The Saar joins the Moselle a few miles above Treves; its finest vineyards are those of Scharzhofberg, Bockstein, Geisberg and Euchariusberg; very fine wines are also made at Scharzberg, Agritiusberg, Wiltingen and Oberemmel.”

    In The Wine Connoisseur’s Catechism (1934), Simon wrote: “The best wines of the Saar Valley are those of Geisberg, Euchariusberg, Bockstein, Scharzberg, Agritiusberg, Wiltingen, Oberemmel, and the finest of all, Scharzhofberg. The best wines of the Ruwer Valley are the wines of Maximin Grünehaus [sic], Eitelsbach, and Casel.”

    In Zeitschrift des Königlich Preussischen Statistischen Bureaus: 1871: “Among the best sites on the Mosel and the side valleys, one considers in the Trier district: Thiergärtner, Avelsbacher, Olewig-Neuberger; in the Trier rural district: Oberemmeler (especially Rauler, Agritiusberger), Krettnacher, Niedermenniger (Euchariusberger); in the Ruwer Valley: Grünhäuser, Kaseler, Eitelsbacher; in the Wittlich district: Piesporter, Ürziger, Kinheimer, and Kröver; in the Bernkasteler district: Oligsberger and Neuberger, Brauneberger, Doctor by Bernkastel, Josefshof by Graach, Wehlener, Erdner, and Zeltinger. On the Saar and its side valleys in the Saarburg district, the better sites include Wiltinger (especially Scharzhofberger), Ockfener, Schodener, Ayler, Kanzemer, Wawerner.

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