Zilliken: “In terms of harvest patterns and harvest results, 2010 reminded us of the excellent 2005 vintage: dense, concentrated with a racy acidic backbone to support an extremely long maturation and potential.
With the smallest yield in 30 years and yet the highest average must weights ever seen, this is a year that will be remembered fondly for a long time to come.”
Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “There is only a small lot (barely exceeding a 1,000 liter fuder) of Zilliken 2010 Saarburger Rausch Riesling Grosses Gewachs rendered from tiny, healthy, golden berries and consisting of a final blend with a bit of its halbtrocken ‘Diabas’ counterpart that lifted its finished residual sugar to eight grams. A glorious nose of fresh orange, kirsch, orange blossom, coriander, iris, and sea breeze leads into a silken-textured, vibrantly juicy palate that combines those same elements, its maritime aspect reappearing as a compulsively saliva-inducing salinity. (It was precisely the lack of such salivation that made me most skeptical, readers of issue 192 might recall, as to the satisfaction at table or future value that would be derived from this wine’s vintage 2009 counterpart.) A site- (and presumably diabase-) typical smokiness adds to the intriguingly dynamic interaction of fruit and mineral elements in this Riesling’s impressively persistent and downright refreshing finish. That complex sense of interplay, along with an aura of refinement and surprising levity, set this superb success well apart not just from Zilliken’s inaugural 2009 Grosses Gewachs but also from the more overtly dense and texturally alluring (not to mention improbably outstanding) 2010 Riesling trocken. I can imagine this Grosses Gewachs being worth following for well more than a decade, though there is no track record chez Zilliken for a wine of this sort, and one scarcely ever has opportunity to drink what would come closest, namely an ‘old’ generic Riesling trocken from this estate.”
“Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken’s 2010 collection has served for some controversy in that they not only like Schaefers in Graach adopted the minority position that de-acidification should be to wine, not must, but also in this respect unlike Schaefers performed acid-adjustments throughout their residually sweet line-up. Not that the extreme nature of what they eventually bottled could possible fail in itself to raise eyebrows. To declare myself up front (not that this isn’t evident from my scores!): I found this year’s collection chez Zilliken utterly awesome and cannot imagine that somehow seeds of early decline or subsequent disappointment are harbored in any of these wines on account of their levels of acid having been trimmed from the perilous heights where nature had left them. The view is dizzying enough (as befits the name ‘Rausch’) at the altitudes Hanno Zilliken chose for these Rieslings’ flight paths. ‘It was the tiny, millerandaged berries with their thick skins and the extreme, protracted shriveling by wind and botrytis that characterized this vintage and that concentrated everything in the grapes including ripe acidity. But even such high extract and ripeness,’ insists Zilliken, ‘often wouldn’t have sufficed to achieve balance. Maybe in their youth, but once the baby fat was gone the acids would have come through too aggressively.’ He grants, though, that experience with acid levels as high as these was formerly confined to unripe vintages (such as several he suffered through when he took over his family’s estate in the 1980s) or Eiswein. ‘If you’re talking about a half a gram or one gram of acid adjustment, you’re talking there about 50 or 100 liters of totally de-acidified and filtered wine blended back into a thousand liter fuder, and I just don’t see any danger. For the first two weeks, all we did was seek- and pick-out shriveled material,’ narrates Zilliken, who when I ask him about his ‘main harvest,’ replies, laughing: ‘What harvest? There really wasn’t much left to do after that! But those grapes that did remain healthy and green were incredibly stable. We let them hang and then picked them at the very end for our dry wines which we didn’t de-acidify. There was no Q.b.A., Kabinett, or Spatlese (he means by must weight): Auslese was the least that we harvested. After the 2005s,’ Zilliken sums-up, ‘we thought we could never again see such a vintage of superlatives; yet 2010 in some ways begins where 2005 left off.’ Only in Pradikat-labeling did this differ from previous top Zilliken collections. Waiting for Eiswein was judged a fool’s errand since Eiswein-like concentration and acidity pervaded the lot, which in turn, Zilliken thought, kept any from having genuine B.A. or T.B.A. character. An ‘I-don’t-know-how-they-did-it, but’ feeling accompanied me as I toured what this estate had wrought in 2010.” 93/100 pts