Over the past few years, Florian Lauer has come to be recognized as one of the best producers in all of Germany. If you don't know the wines, it's probably because they didn't really hit the limelight until they were imported by Vom Boden, a small and very highly regarded Germany-focused importer out of NYC who sells his small portfolio of top estates to every Michelin-starred restaurant in NY.
The estate has always focused most of its energy on producing dry or dry-tasting Riesling. The Lauers are in the Saar, a tributary of the Mosel with a long tradition of producing lithe, mineral, dry-tasting Riesling. The cool climate and steep slate slopes the Mosel is known for are at their most extreme in the Saar, producing Rieslings with even more of that chiseled cut we love. If the rest of the Mosel is the Cote d'Or, the Saar is Chablis. Florian took over the family estate from his father in 2005 and since then, the wines have gotten better and better with each vintage. These wines are now spoken of in the same breath as other masters of dry Riesling, like Schafer-Frohlich, Von Winning, and, yes, even Keller.
Florian's reputation rests on his stunning single-vineyard bottlings, but he also happens to make two of the best value Rieslings in all of Germany. The Lauer "Barrel X" is Florian's platonic ideal of what Saar Riesling should be. It's a regional wine coming from three villages in the Saar; continuing the Burgundy analogy, this would be his Bourgogne Blanc bottling. It's just off-dry, with about 20g/l of residual sugar, beautifully balanced by classic, piercing Saar acidity. It's complex, yes, but also just plain old delicious, the sort of wine that disappears way faster than you expect it to.
Florian's "Senior" is one of the best values in white wine, period: a wine from 70-year-old vines in the legendary Ayler Küpp vineyard. Drier than the Barrel X, this is chiseled and focused; it's refreshing and easy-drinking but there's also the unmistakable imprint of Saar slate. "Senior" harkens back to the most traditional style of Saar Riesling, which is to say spontaneously fermented, dry-tasting, and pure mineral refreshment. Traditional Saar Riesling has more in common with things like Chablis, Champagne, or Chenin Blanc than with the more robust and fruit-driven Rieslings from warmer climes. "Senior" is the perfect introduction to these utterly unique beauties. This is a Grand Cru wine in everything but name, and an absolute steal at less than $30.
Despite their value pricing, Barrel X and Senior are highly sought after. Supplies are limited. Summer will be here before we know it; don't get stuck without some of these!