The 2014 Peter Lauer Schonfels GG proves a highlight and a strong candidate for dry wine of the vintage. Here some background information on this wine and the Estate’s outstanding collection.
The Mosel Vintage 2014 proved a remarkably contrasted vintage with true strokes of genius right next to the ordinary (to remain polite). Never have we experienced such a huge diversity in quality and style as in 2014.
In the course of the last weeks, the leading Estates released their major dry and dry-tasting wines. As we reported in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 29 (Oct 2015) published a few weeks ago, the better ones are quite remarkable as they prove to be packed with flavors yet refreshingly light in alcohol. There is hardly any wine with more than 12-12.5% of alcohol as many Mosel winemakers realize that alcohol is their enemy. Also, the need to be overly strict with the selecting out botrytis grapes left most Estates with grapes showing actually quite moderate sugar levels.
Among these dry Mosel Riesling (and we tasted them nearly all), none impressed us as much as the Ayler Schonfels GG by Weingut Peter Lauer, which combines finesse and elegance with nicely tamed acidity and alcoholic lightness.
Florian Lauer took over the family Estate in Ayl in the early 2000s and set a change in the structure and style of the portfolio, focusing more on dry and dry-tasting wines, where he allows for 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, without adding simplifying lactic notes.
Over the years, Florian Lauer has perfected his style, highlighting his different terroirs on the way, including within the main hill of the Ayler Kupp. On the main hill, he differentiates between east-facing terroirs (Fass 1 and Fass 3) and west-facing ones (e.g. Kern) as well as between those higher up (Stirn) and those lower down (Unterstenberg). He wants to give each terroir the chance to express its personality.
His quest for terroir also led him to re-cultivate old vineyards. In the mid-2000s, he revived the prime but steep Schonfels, which had been left abandoned since the early 1990s. Florian laughed when we asked why he did this: "You know what? Actually I don't know. I was driving past this steep hill and it simply felt wrong that such a great site, facing south to south-east, was simply being abandoned. In 2006, we cleared the whole vineyard. You must imagine the scene: It was like a jungle, everything was overgrown, there were trees everywhere. The vines had simply been left fending for themselves. Even the stakes were still there! We just cut everything down, while keeping the old vines, which we were able to rescue."
If you think he would stop there, you are wrong. More recently, he replanted the forgotten Lambertskirch as well as an abandoned parcel in the Saarfeilser. And when we hear him talking, there is more to come!
The Schonfels vineyard is situated about a mile away from the actual Ayler Kupp hill, on a very steep, south to south-east facing slope overseeing the Saar (see the map below). Yet this distance has not kept the authorities from including the Schonfels into the Ayler Kupp single vineyard in the course of the vineyard reform of 1971.
Right from the start, Florian Lauer treated his Schonfels completely separately from his Ayler Kupp wines. The main reason for this is its unique topology, as he explained: "The Schonfels is one of the few top vineyards in the Saar which is not protected by forest at its top. Look at Scharzhofberg, Ayler Kupp, Ockfener Bockstein or Saarburger Rausch: They all have the top protected from winds by some woods. This is not the case in the Schonfels as the vineyard is situated on a cliff over the Saar. The result is that there is always some wind in the Schonfels, which dries the grapes out after any rain and hence keeps them healthy for longer. Also, the vineyard is ideally exposed and hence the fruit ripens early. Also, the soil made of fine weathered grey slate is slightly deeper than that found on the Ayler Kupp. All this makes for ideal conditions to produce dry wines from ripe clean grapes.”
This quest to differentiate the Schonfels from the other Ayler vineyards led Florian to have the Schonfels recognized as a Katasterlage in 2014, a move made possible after a change of the winemaking law allowed for Lieu-Dit on the label.
In many ways, the 2014er Ayler Schonfels benefited from close to ideal conditions. Florian Lauer had cleared the vines from any unclean bunches by mid October. The remaining clean grapes were then able to ripen further for a few more days, with the wind drying them up. As a result, Florian harvested perfectly ripe and clean fruit with a relatively modest 87-88° Oechsle in the last third of October. The wine was fermented as usual with ambient yeasts, with partial malolactic fermentation, and left on its lees for 6 months before being bottling.
We have regularly been praising Florian's wines since we started Mosel Fine Wines almost a decade ago (the 2008er Riesling Schonfels Fass 11 was already a wine of the month back in 2009!). However, we feel that the Weingut Peter Lauer outdid itself in 2014. Besides producing gorgeous Kabinett and Spätlese, Florian Lauer produced three GG bottlings which are all among the finest dry Rieslings of the vintage, with, at its top the glorious Schonfels.
A review of the 2014 Florian Lauer GG bottlings can be found in Part II of the 2014 Vintage Report published in Issue No 29 (Oct 2015). The 2014 Peter Lauer collection was already covered in Part I of the 2014 vintage report published in Issue No 28 (Jun 2015). Both Issues are available to subscribers on simple request. Not yet a subscriber? You can become one, free of charge, by simply registering yourself here below.
Ayler Schonfels Riesling Fass 11 GG
The Ayler Schonfels GG comes from a vineyard overseeing the Saar and planted with over 80 year-old vines. The 2014 version starts off with an iodine-infused nose of pear, quince and white melon, blended into some herbs and spices. This wine is full of flavors on the palate, delivered with stunning depth, yet the finish is elegant and refined as it leaves a nicely salty and mouth-wateringly tart feel in the after-taste. What a beauty in the making! 2019-2029
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.