The life of a Saar Riesling grower is not an easy one. Possibly one of the coldest and most marginal corners of Germany, the Saar can produce some of the world’s great white wine in hot sunny years such as 1990. However, these are usually outnumbered by cold wet years resulting in over astringent and unripe wines. There are a small band of growers though who have a distinct advantage over the rest in the land that they own. A handful of Saar vineyards are steep enough and exposed enough to ensure a decent level of grape ripening even in poor years. Hanno Zilliken is fortunate enough to have sizeable holdings in Saarburg’s great vineyard, the steep south-facing Rausch. He exploits these slate based vines to the maximum through careful pruning and hand selection. When the wine is pressed, it gently descends by gravity into the oak casks lying in Hanno’s dark damp cellars. The wines are prime examples of Saar Riesling, being mouthwateringly taut, mineral and sophisticated.
Nearly all the quality vineyards of the Saar face south, in an effort to counter the cold weather by harvesting as much sun as possible to achieve ripeness. These are perhaps the steeliest of all the wines found in Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, but this combination with the marked acidity means that when on song, the balance between acidity and late harvest honeyed ripeness found here can be unbeatable.