The Winery Of The 2008 Vintage is…. Wow, von Othegraven. For an ethereal collection of quintessential Saar wines that haunted me for days, and from which I recovered wine memories of my earliest days when every sip of such a thing was miraculous. But this was a hard choice, because there were two runners-up who were objectively as good. Othegraven’s wines take me back to a kind of pre-cognitive state I remember when I first tasted great Saar Riesling: How on earth can this thing BE? I know they’re expensive and misaligned with the market, but if you have room for a splurge, make it this one. ~Terry Theise
The town of Kanzem is home to a railroad station and line which runs between the Kanzemer Altenberg vineyard and the Saar River. At the end of World War II the station and vineyards were bombed by the allied forces, cutting off supplies to the German troops. Much of the vineyard was replanted in the years following the end of the war and haven’t been replanted since. 65+ year old vines in Altenberg are more the rule, rather than the exception. This small vineyard (20 hectares), and it’s exposition and steepness are also very rare. It’s one of only a few south facing sites in the Saar with such a sharp incline and close proximity to the river. The soil is pure grey slate; very different than the red and blue slate of the Mosel. Terry says that “this type of slate sucks up sweetness.” These are racy, delicate wines. Terry notes: More exotic than the Bockstein; more solid too, it stands up straighter (whereas the Bockstein just dances); maple-cured ham aromas, but with air this swells and broadens, and is just a stone’s flick from perfection; a glorious counterpoint of salts, minerals, fruits, dramatically saltier and more explicitly dialectical than Bockstein longer also. Just perhaps not quite as adorable.