Near the ancient city of Trier, once the northern capital of the Roman Empire, the Saar River empties its frigid waters into the swelling Mosel. In this most northerly of wine growing regions, growers are at the mercy of nature, and total ripeness is only achieved in three-four years out of ten. Often the bulk of the production is sold off to sparkling wine cellars as the high-acid base wine needed for making Sekt. Yet it is in this valley that legends are born, for if nature abides and the sun shines well into October and November, we are blessed with wines unparallel anywhere in Germany and the world. Wines of astonishing depth, with slate and honeyed fruit that seems to float on the air like music, yet with a taut backbone like cool steel that cuts and refreshes. As Hugh Johnson puts it: “This is not the country for everyday wine; it is either the successful result of a skillful struggle or it is nothing.” The early bud break and flowering in 2004 gave the riesling a “head start” in the Saar, and harvest was carried out in October of healthy grapes with a ripe acid structure. The estate in Serrig of Christian and Andrea Ebert, Schloss Saarstein, sits like a jewel atop the 24-acre monopole vineyard that is as imposing as it is beautiful. The 2004 Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Kabinett ($18.99) sings with slate and wafts of flowers. Honey and pineapple jump from the glass. On the palate the steely grip of the cool Saar earth keeps the effusive fruit in check. An icy blade of pure riesling is wielded with exacting precision and focus providing an experience that lightens the heart and brings a smile to your face. The 2002 Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Spätlese ($23.99) is as explosive as it is long, with more richness and depth, a commanding wine with a silent intensity that seethes beneath its surface of crystalline fruit. The longer hang time adds depth and polishes the already rapier-like acidity to a high sheen, which carries the citrus and juicy apricot flavors that bring this wine to a lilting mineral finish. For a full inventory of German wines check go to www.klwines.com or call me at (650) 364-8544 ex 736. Live in the Light! —Jeff Vierra
Arriving this month, hopefully on time, is one of the real standouts of my trip last July to the Rhône. We were staying at great little hotel in Orange, and some producers sent wines ahead for tasting and possible importation. One of these was the Silice de Quincy, a biodynamic estate in the little-known appellation of Quincy run by Jacques Sallé. Quincy lies east of Borges on the River Cher where soils are less limestone being more gravel and sand washed down from the Massif Central millennia ago. The wines here have always fetched far less than in Sancerre or Pouilly. So, I was a bit shocked at first by the prices asked for the wines of Silice de Quincy and imagined I would not buy them for sale here at K&L. What happened next was revelatory… and what I learned was that I knew little about what wines should be “worth” and to what heights sauvignon blanc could attain. The 2002 Silice de Quincy ($24.99) is as good as Boulay’s ’02 Chavignol Clos de Beaujeu, which I am crazy for, and Dagueneau in a great vintage, though each has its own interpretation, pitch and nuance. I tasted this wine when I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to escape the sweltering heat and drink a beer. Immediately I smiled, and if that is not the sign of good wine I don’t know what is. Then I laughed and then fell silent. The 2002 Silice de Quincy has more than you bargain for, so don’t come looking here for simple, quaffable sauvignon. This is a wine of power and poise with pungent layers of flavor built upon a foundation of stone. There is a definite scent and flavor of lime and a muskiness typical of the grape with a purity that brings to mind the water in a deep stone sided alpine lake. There is texture as well that flirts just shy of being rich due to its bright and piquant acid structure. All this, no doubt, due to the very old vines, some 100 years, that are carefully tended by vigneron Jacques Sallé using no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides and following the biodynamic model. There are only 15 cases of this monument, so act accordingly, which means quick!! Be happy! —Jeff Vierra
I know I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to pound away at the subject till the day I die… PURITY. I refuse to accept any wine that has been muddled over by some scientist, wearing a sterile white lab coat, who could care less about the juice he or she is now manipulating into “wine.” I want wines made from a farmer, someone who has a passion for the land on which he or she drops blood, sweat and tears. Someone who can step outside and have a complete understanding of what nature is doing all around them, to know it is time to prune based solely on instinct and the feeling that they have in their bones, not some chart. With these people, come wines with tradition, honor. They have a distinct, pure, presence of place, wines that speak to you, wines that represent the people and the land from which they come. That’s the passion I want. I want to shake a winemaker’s hand and feel the life of the vineyard through that handshake. Had enough? Try these on for size… 2004 Peter Schandl Furmint ($14.99) Due to its long maturation, this varietal has an extremely unique acid balance. Clear, ripe fruits like apple and quince explode upon your senses, and then take a sip. Its long, expressive finish will then win you over. 2004 Weingut Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC ($17.99) A zippy, refreshing wine that is a step or two above your “entry level” grüner. Well structured and precise, this little gem will keep you thinking well after you have finished the bottle. —Eric Story
Bid on this...we're pleased to be conducting fine wine auctions in addition to our retail selection of thousands of the world's best wines.
Bid, buy, sell, and browse the hundreds of auction lots live on K&L Auctions.
Back in the 1970's we went by the name "K&L Liquors" and our dedication to bringing you the finest spirits remains the same.
View our Spirits Journal to find out what our buyers are getting into next...