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  • January 9, 2020
  • A Selection of 2019 Saar Rieslings from Hofgut Falkenstein

  • by Lars Carlberg

The 1890 edition of Clotten's Saar und Mosel Weinbau-Karte.

The Weber family farms about 9 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 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 Euchariusberg. The soil is primarily gray slate, with some quartz and quartzite-bearing sandstone. The father-and-son team of Erich and Johannes Weber don’t use herbicides and believe in low yields—one Flachbogen, or “flat cane,” per vine—to produce an array of dry (trocken), off-dry (feinherb), and fruity Saar wines—most of which are cask-by-cask bottlings. Below is a list of the 2019 Saar Rieslings, with a few short descriptions:

2019 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken
Fuder Egon (old vines): apple, peach; spicy, steely, and bone-dry. AP 19
Fuder Mutter Anna (old vines): elderflower, quince; enlivening, long. AP 1

2019 Niedermenniger Sonnenberg Riesling Kabinett trocken
Fuder Muny (old vines): wet stone, iodine, fennel, flinty, and firm. AP 9

2019 Krettnacher Altenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken
Fuder Altenberg (old vines): apple peel, floral, herbal, balanced; sturdy, salty. AP 7

2019 Krettnacher Ober Schäfershaus Riesling Spätlese trocken
Fuder Lorenz Manni (old vines): violets, passion fruit, mint, very fine. AP 18

2019 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett feinherb
Fuder Kaselshaidchen: sour cherry, nutmeg, lime; creamy, great length. AP 15

2019 Niedermenniger Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese feinherb
Halbfuder Onkel Peter (ungrafted old vines): herbs, fine, dense, peppery. AP 4
Fuder Palm (old vines): reduced, citrusy, apricot, peach, refreshing, lively. AP 3
Fuder Zuckerberg (old vines): flowery, yellow fruits, vibrant, fruity. AP ?
Fuder Meyer Nepal (old vines): grapefruit, long, zesty, and crystalline. AP 11
Fuder Kleiner Klaus, Kleiner Herbert (old vines): gooseberries, hawthorn, creamy. AP ?

2019 Niedermenniger Im Kleinschock Riesling Kabinett
Fuder Kleinschock (partly ungrafted old vines): floral, raspberry, lemony, levity. AP 20

2019 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Kabinett
Fuder Arthuro: cool, piquant, bright, and brisk. AP 13
Fuder Kugel Peter, Gisela, Mammen (old vines): lime, crystal clear, vivacious. AP 12

2019 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Kabinett “Alte Reben”
Fuder Gisela (ungrafted old vines): tobacco, elegant, stony, and very fine. AP 8

2019 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Spätlese
Fuder Klaus Lang (old vines): mirabelle, anise, fennel, lime, light. AP 6
Fuder Ternes (old vines): pepper, pear, apricot, yeasty. AP 14

2019 Krettnacher Euchariusberg Riesling Auslese
Fuder Förster (old vines): breadcrumbs, orange peel, and lemon—a quaffer. AP 5

The AP numbers (with the bottling or batch 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 old place-names, such as Ober Schäfershaus or Im Kleinschock (listed as “Schock” on Clotten’s 1868 Saar und Mosel Weinbau-Karte). Depending on the size of the parcel and the yield of the vintage, some casks comprise the grapes from two or more parcels in a given sector, which they harvest en bloc, or all at one time. It needs to be enough for one press load. Almost all the wines—which are bottled straight off of the gross lees—come from old vines.

The Webers neither chaptalize nor de-acidify any of their wines (including trocken and feinherb), and thus indicate this as a Prädikatswein (Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese), which, pre-1971 Wine Law, was called a Naturwein, or “natural wine.” They also eschew yeast nutrients and cultures. That’s why so few wines fermented dry in the 2018 vintage because of the long, hot summer. In addition, the Webers avoid artificial fertilizers and over-tilling the soil, two measures that can cause too much vigor and rot. In the cellar, they eschew enzymes, fining agents (such as charcoal), cultured yeasts, and diammonium phosphate (DAP), a yeast nutrient, widely used to encourage fermentation.

When Jean Joseph Tranchot and his team mapped the region between 1803 and 1813, as instructed by Napoleon, Euchariusberg, listed as “Kruschock,” had only about 5 hectares of vineyard and was the only area on the hill and neighboring hills to be planted to vines. The Webers now hold slightly over 2.8 hectares, all in one block, on this prime south-facing slope of Euchariusberg, also known as Großschock, long considered one of the best sites for growing grapes on the Saar. In other words, their contiguous holdings are located in the heart of Euchariusberg. (Vineyards are also depicted in the core parts of Niedermenniger Herrenberg and Krettnacher Altenberg on the Tranchot map.) ♦