Tasting Peter Lauer’s Riesling Barrel X

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-29-2012

Aaron Nix-Gomez, Hogshead Wine.

Ask a Riesling enthusiast about hot producers, and he’ll inevitably steer you toward Weingut Peter Lauer in Ayl, Germany, a small town along the Saar river right by the border of France and Luxembourg.

That’s how I ended up with a bottle of Peter Lauer’s 2010 Riesling Barrel X. My ongoing exploration of Riesling has been directed, in part, by Phil Bernstein of Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Beverages — and when he pulled the Peter Lauer, he assured me it would be delicious. It was.

The Saar, as Chris Kissack once explained, is “where the confluence of vineyards that go under the title of Mosel… really begins.” The region is home to some of Germany’s finest vineyards. Yet they’re different from Mosel’s because the Saar (and its tributaries) provides surrounding vineyards with much less temperature moderation. And the altitude tends to be a bit higher, so the climate is cooler.

Consequently, the grapes struggle to fully ripen — and the region sometimes fails to produce high-quality wines. When successful, though, wines from the Saar are noted for balance, fresh acidity, and more citrus notes than typical Mosel Riesling.

The wines of Peter Lauer have become extremely popular in the United States since New York’s Crush Wine & Spirits “re-introduced” the wines to the U.S. market in October 2009. (The word “re-introduced” is necessary because David Schildknecht imported small quantities of Lauer’s wines in the late 1980s.) Crush’s endorsement of the wines was unequivocal:

“Weingut Lauer is the most exciting German find in many years…

We simply cannot recommend these wines highly enough. They are a “must try” for German wine enthusiasts, though anyone inspired by terroir-driven whites will love Lauer. (Seriously: I can’t fathom a Chablis fan who wouldn’t be thrilled by the mineral purity of these chiseled Rieslings.)

This is Riesling in its brightest, most transparent form. This is Riesling as nimble, finessed, filigreed; Riesling as an uncompromising treatise in mineral and flowers. Lauer’s wines are INTENSE, yet compact with detail and precision. Capturing the essence of these wines is exceedingly difficult – imagine a spiderweb, frozen in ice and infused with stone fruits and slate — or the beam of a laser, fashioned from porcelain and mineral.”

German wine expert Lyle Fass of Grapes the Wine Company is also a huge fan — he’s even visited the winery twice (Visit 1; Visit 2) and his write-ups are equally complimentary.

The bottle I picked up — Lauer’s basic estate Riesling, called Barrel X — was just $19. And I quickly realized why wine shops like Bassin’s, Crush, and Grapes are such big fans of the wines.

Review: 2010 Peter Lauer Riesling Barrel X
An explosively aromatic nose marked by ripe, bright limes, candied green apples, hard apple cider, pineapple, and gray rocks and slate minerality. The palate is sweet (showing definite RS) and almost has enough acid to seem dry. While it isn’t terribly complex, it’s exceptionally gulpable — and an incredible value at under $20. (90 pts.)

Comments (3)

  1. Great review! I’ll need to try and find some…

  2. If you like the Barrel X (known as Alt Scheidt in Germany), you’ll go crazy for the higher end of the lineup. That’s Lauer’s entry level Riesling Feinherb (it’s 7 Euros here) – the single cask wines in the “gold label” collection are some of the most amazing terroir-driven wines I’ve ever tasted.

  3. David, Thanks for your note. I recently also had a bottle of this from MacArthur/Phil B. I agree with your note and would add only that the aspect of the wine that was most remarkable to me was that it had such a tremendous amount and intensity of flavors — for any wine but for German riesling in particular. As I understand it, the grapes in Germany in 2010 had very high extract due to the unusual vintage conditions. It made the wine appealing to me (and I’ve bought a range of Lauer’s 2010s) but I wonder whether consumers attracted by this 2010 bottling will not enjoy the very different charms of a more normal vintage like 2011 (sort of like 2009 Beaujolais). Or perhaps this is to some extent part of the Lauer signature, if the Crush email is accurate. I personally am eagerly awaiting the Lauer 2011 wines to examine the contrast.