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  • April 1, 2015
  • The Fourth Annual Weinfrühlingsfest Zurlauben

  • by Lars Carlberg

zurlauben_posterThe fourth annual spring wine festival at Zurlauben in Trier will take place on April 18 and 19. It's one of the first opportunities to taste the 2014s from the Upper Mosel, Saar, Ruwer, and Middle Mosel. This year's event, organized by Karl Schmelzer of Restaurant Bagatelle, has a number of growers in the Saar region. A ticket only costs 15 euros.

In addition, the sharp and jovial Claus Piedmont, a winegrower on the Saar and head of the Trier testing center for AP numbers, will give a seminar on tasting wines on Sunday, April 19, at 4pm. The price is 15 euros (or just 25 euros for both the seminar and day pass).

The producers, broken down by subregion, are as follows: on the Upper Mosel, Fürst (Metzdorf), Johann Hild (Wincheringen), and Stephan Steinmetz (Wehr); on the Saar, von Hövel (Oberemmel), Schloss Saarstein (Serrig), Dr. Wagner (Saarburg), Dr. Fischer – Bocksteinhof (Ockfen), VOLS (Ayl), Hofgut Falkenstein (Konz-Niedermennig), Reverchon (Konz-Filzen), and Weinhof Herrenberg (Schoden); on the Ruwer, Karlsmühle (Mertesdorf); on the Middle Mosel, Kirsten (Klüsserath), Gessinger (Zeltingen), Römerhof (Riol), Selbach-Oster (Zeltingen), Schloss Lieser (Lieser), Molitor-Rosenkreuz (Minheim), Weiser-Künstler (Traben-Trarbach), Vollenweider (Traben-Trarbach), Josef Rosch (Leiwen), and Klaus Junk (Leiwen). ♦

  • It was a great turnout at Zurlauben and by far the best crowd at this annual spring wine festival. I especially enjoyed seeing so many young people there. A lot of them are students at the University of Trier. The weather was gorgeous as well, although somewhat windy and cool on Saturday, when I poured the wines of Vollenweider. The 2014 Wolfer Goldgrube Kabinett was a big hit with the crowd at the tasting. Daniel Vollenweider was there on Sunday, which is when I came later in the afternoon to taste around with Alex Manning, who lives in Brooklyn and is a subscriber to my site. After working behind the bar at Estela, Alex decided to visit different producers along the Mosel, including working in the vineyards at Clemens Busch and Selbach-Oster. Now, he’s in Trier to see some top producers on the Saar and Ruwer.

    At Zurlauben, each grower presented three wines, mostly from the new 2014 vintage. Of course, some had other wines in the mix. Manfred Loch of Weinhof Herrenberg only had his 2013s. I didn’t get to taste these and many other wines.

    Daniel Vollenweider had two wines from 2014; both were tank samples. Besides the 2014 Goldgrube Kabinett, he also had his very good 2014 Felsenfest Riesling trocken, along with his quasi-GG 2013 Goldgrube. I really liked the Goldgrube Kabinett.

    Over the course of the two days, it was good to see that there was no group-think among the tasters. On the contrary, a lot of people preferred the residually sweet wines from certain producers. I sense the younger generation is more open-minded and less inclined to insist on trocken. They just drink what tastes good to them. And there are those who always preferred the residually sweet Mosel wines.

    Konstantin Weiser of Weiser-Künstler poured his 2014 Riesling, 2014 Steffensberg, and 2014 Enkircher Ellergrub Kabinett. These were among my favorites at the event. A few days before, I had a chance to drink the excellent 2014 Gaispfad, too.

    By the way, Schloss Saarstein and Dr. Fischer – Bocksteinhof have new retro labels, which were designed by the ever-present Medienagenten. These look pretty good. I especially like the ribbed-paper labels of Dr. Fischer, which will eventually have the extra-tall 35-cm bottles in the future. The ones at the tasting were 33-cm screw-capped bottles for an early shipment to Italy. The new co-owner Martin Foradori Hofstätter needs the wines soon. I, however, prefer the more modest-sized bottles. Nik Weis, who is also an owner of Dr. Fischer, has the taller bottles for St. Urbans-Hof. He has stylish, newish labels as well. (See “Mosel Wine: Bottle Types” and “What’s Your Favorite Mosel Wine Label?” for more details.)

    Before I forget, Stephan Steinmetz, in Wehr, and Josef Rosch have new modern-looking labels beginning with the 2014 vintage.

    I didn’t take notes on any wines and was more interested to get a first impression. It was difficult to stay focused on the wines with all the pretty girls there. Anyhow, Helmut Plunien of VOLS had just two bottlings, his entry-level 2014 Saar Riesling feinherb and 2014 Ayler Riesling. Both tasted very good. He also has a new wine for Terry Theise called “United Slates.” It’s a little cheesy, but Terry supposedly liked the name and the wine, which comes from different slate soils in Saarburg, Ayl, and Wiltingen. I haven’t tasted it, though. Helmut says that the wine has about 35 grams of sugar per liter.

    Otherwise, I tasted the wines of Clüsserath-Weiler (no US importer), Schloss Lieser, von Hövel, Dr. Wagner, and several others. It was good to talk with the various growers, like Thomas Haag or Christian Ebert, and taste a few wines with the Mosel River and colored-sandstone cliffs as the backdrop for such a fun festival.

  • Andrew Bair says:

    Thank you for the report, Lars. Sounds like a lot of fun!

    Interesting to see that Martin Foradori of the Hofstätter estate in Alto Adige is now a co-owner of Dr. Fischer. I’ve liked his entry-level Pinot Noir and Weissburgunder in the past. Of course, Martin’s cousin Elisabetta is one of the absolute top winemakers in Alto Adige – best known for her Teroldegos, but she is also making some very compelling whites.

    Will look forward to seeing the new labels that you mentioned – Saarstein especially needed a new look IMHO.

    As for VOLS’ United Slates, Terry Theise has proudly sold several wines with kitschy names in the past. I’m guessing that ‘Leitz Out’, ‘Einz Zwei Dry’ (also Leitz), and ‘Soil to Soul’ (Strub) never sold under those names in Germany – nonetheless, they are/were all pleasant everyday Rieslings. (Of course, Terry no longer imports Leitz.)

    • Andrew, I’ve never tasted the wines from Hofstätter or Elisabetta Foradori, although she is well known in the States.

      Schloss Saartein’s new labels look very good. I need to taste more of their 2014s.

      Yes, I believe Kevin Pike of Schatzi Wines created those names for Leitz’s entry-level wines.

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