A stunningly pure and clean Spätlese by Geltz-Zilliken nicely underlines why Spätlese and Auslese are the sweet spot of the 2015 vintage in the Mosel.
Few vintages have been as hyped as 2015 and there is some truth in it. 2015 yielded some stunning wines, and this in all stylistic directions.
But not everything that shines is gold. At its heart, 2015 is a ripe vintage, pepped up by glorious zest, with many wines on the powerful side. Only the very best wines will turn into classics in a decade or two.
One Estate which took advantage of the 2015 vintage potential to the full is Weingut Geltz-Zilliken, which produced a mind-boggling set of wines, among which the regular Saarburger Rausch Spätlese is one of the highlights.
Ask any wine lover and we bet the name Geltz-Zilliken will be among his favorite Estates from the Saar if not from the whole region: Weingut Geltz-Zillliken is one of the “big” names in the world of Riesling.
This has not always been the case. Mind you, it always had an impeccable reputation. But it is under the reign of Hanno Zilliken (who took over in 1976) that the reputation of the Estate truly went stratospheric. Far from making the most powerful wines, wine lovers quickly became addicted to the delicacy and elegance of Hanno Zilliken's wines: This mix of fruit, fresh herbs, a hint of tea and slate has wine lovers (including us!) under the spell. The aging abilities of the Estate’s wines is almost second to none. Wines from the 1970s and 1960s are still as fresh as a daisy, as a recent comprehensive tasting underlined.
Hanno Zilliken formally handed over the management of this prestigious Estate to his daughter Dorothee Zilliken and his son-in-law Philipp Zilliken (he took over her name) in mid-2016. Of course Hanno will still be heavily involved into the Estate and remain at the side of his daughter.
His career is paved with great vintages, among which the 2005 vintage is possibly the greatest of all.
Also the 2015 vintage will go down as one of the great vintages at this Estate. The good weather conditions in October gave Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken the opportunity to dedicate the whole harvest team on making vineyard selections for a full week. This yielded no less than seven Auslese and upwards wines, including three wines which legally qualify for TBA!
When asked about it, Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken admit that the fact that 2015 is also the birth year of Dorothee and Philipp’s first son Theo played a role. As Hanno puts it in his usual, down-to-earth, matter-of-fact style, ”I thank nature for such a vintage in this year which is so special for our family and our Estate.”
The Estate’s pride is its 11 ha of vineyards in the Saarburger Rausch, a stunning Grand Cru with a unique soil which contains some Diabas intertwined into the blue-grey slate and adds a unique underlying fresh (grassy and minty) note to the wines.
The 2015 Rausch Spätlese was harvested at a full 98° Oechsle and has the presence of a clean Auslese. Yet, what makes this wine so fascinating is that it manages to retain a great sense of fresh ripeness which reminds of the 1997 Zilliken wines, only with more acidity (lovers of Zilliken will know that this is also one of the Estate’s great successes).
This Spätlese proves a highlight ... within a 2015 highlight collection. Anyone lucky enough to put their hands on a few bottles and with the patience to let the wines mature will be in for a great moment of Riesling in 10-20 years’ time.
The complete superb 2015 collection by Geltz-Zilliken was reviewed in Mosel Fine Wines Issue No 31 (Jun 2016). You are a subscriber and miss this Issue? Simply send us a request by email and we will be happy to send you a copy. You are not yet a subscriber and wish to get this Issue? Subscribe free of charge by registering yourself here below and ask us for a copy by email.
Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spätlese
This wine offers a superbly elegant and complex feel of citrusy fruits, a hint of coconut, minty herbs and slate on the nose. It proves medium-bodied on the palate, where zesty acidity provides the right counter-weight to delicately silky and ripe and creamy yellow fruits. A further kick of acidity comes through in the after-taste and livens up the whole experience. The presence and aromatic ripeness are that of a delicately clean and light Auslese. But the finesse and elegance are simply to die for as the wine lingers on long after having been tasted! It is still on the rich side at this stage but will prove a stunner at maturity. What a great effort in the making! 2025-2040
© Text by Mosel Fine Wines "The Independent Review of Mosel Riesling"
Disclaimer: Mosel Fine Wines is an independent publication and has no commercial relationship with any Estate, association or organization featured in this article.