2011 Zilliken Saarburg Riesling Alte Reben trocken


John Gilman: 94/100
Wine Advocate: 91/100
Mosel Fine Wines: 91/100

This is the second finest young dry Riesling I have ever tasted from the estate- only outpaced by this year’s version of the Grosses Gewächs from the Rausch! Do not miss this wine!”



Professional reviews:

John Gilman (View from the Cellar): “The new bottling of the Alte Reben Trocken is a brilliant wine and again will represent stunning value. The wine weighs in at 11.5 percent and offers up superb complexity on both the nose and palate. The gorgeous nose soars from the glass in a blaze of tart orange, sweet grapefruit, classy wild yeast tones, lemongrass, crystalline minerality and a topnote of ocean breeze. On the palate the wine is deep, fullish, pure and utterly seamless, with very refined, but brisk acidity, laser-like focus, superb mid-palate depth and outstanding grip on the very, very long, snappy finish. This is the second finest young dry Riesling I have ever tasted from the estate- only outpaced by this year’s version of the Grosses Gewächs from the Rausch! Do not miss this wine! 2015-2040. ” 94/100 pts

Wine Advocate (David Schildknecht): “Zilliken-s 11.5% alcohol (unchaptalized) 2011 Saarburger Riesling trocken Alte Reben corresponds to what he would during the last decades of the previous century have bottled as Rausch Spatlese trocken, its new name arising from an adherence to VDP guidelines (and of course, from the fact that the vines in question are indeed old by any reasonable standard). Now that this estate is bottling a substantial portion of its production in legally dry form, this bottling was, as Zilliken puts it, -needed as a bridge- between the quality and price of his -village- Riesling trocken and those of his much more expensive Rausch Grosses Gewachs. -The basis for this bottling,- Zilliken continues, -is several parcels among our four hectares of old vines with loose clusters and tiny berries that look like white currants.- Strongly redolent of kirsch and the pits of fruits generally allied to lemon rind and sage as well as dusty, smoky struck and crushed stone, this offers a clear, buoyant, interactive palate impression. Contrary to what I would have anticipated, these vines ripened to analytically lower acidity than did the younger ones that informed this year-s generic and -village-level- dry Zilliken bottlings; nonetheless, here there is a juicier and livelier sense of citricity as well as thrust, energy and refreshment to the finish. I anticipate satisfaction through at least 2022. There were a substantial 3,000 liters of this, incidentally, yet nearly twice that volume of the corresponding Grosses Gewachs.

Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken could truly glory in a 2011 harvest whose lowest must weight material was already legally Auslese, thanks to their having managed, despite that fact, to render many wines of genuine delicacy, and absolutely none in which levels of either alcohol or residual sugar became problematic. Mind you, when it comes to residual sugar, I can-t offhand recall wines from any vintage at this estate that seemed overly-sweet, so uncanny and hence storied has been Hanno Zilliken-s knack for showcasing Riesling-s talent at hiding sugar. But he was quite correct when he predicted, -You will be astonished to discover that we managed to render Saarburg Riesling trocken of just 11% alcohol.- That this is indeed consistent with Auslese-level must weights is simply a matter of math and chemistry, but sadly one seldom witnesses it. -We-ve never bottled so much dry wine,- notes Zilliken of his 2011 collection as a whole, -but the conditions were perfect for it.- Picking began on the 4th of that month, as soon as a hot spell had relented, and concluding October 25. In view of the enormous number of botrytis bottlings associated with this vintage, not to mention with past performances of this estate, their absence from the 2011 Zilliken collection initially seems remarkable. But in light of the mixed 2011 results displayed in this genre even at many of Germany-s top Riesling addresses, Hanno Zilliken-s narrative renders that absence understandable. -We started searching and selecting for botrytis,- he explains, -but the material was far from homogeneous, and we just didn-t find the precision for which we look. Already in August we had wasps, and in early September the berries began pressing against one another in the compact bunches on younger vines. It was a hard decision, but I want to be able to sleep easily at night, and finally I decided: -We-re not accepting one single brown berry; only golden shriveled berries.– Given both the stylistic range of this uniformly successful collection, I found it hard to believe that all of it was bottled already in late March and early April following harvest. Incidentally, although since 2009 – in keeping with VDP strictures and models – Zillikens have bottled numerous wines without the -Rausch- vineyard-designation, all of their non-Ockfen wines, in fact, now officially grow in that site, since the two adjacent Einzellagen – Antoniusbrunnen and Begschlosschen – in which Zilliken had minimal holdings were mustered out two years ago and their acreage subsumed under -Rausch.- (Details on recent changes in labeling at this estate and be found in part in my introduction in Issue 199, and otherwise within the relevant tasting notes comprising this report.)” 91/100 pts

Mosel Fine Wines (David Rayer & Jean Fisch): “Made from vines over 40 years old, this is shy and restrained wine offers very spicy notes precede herbs, chamomile, grapefruit, pepper and intense slatey smoke. The wine is well-structured on the palate with good volume, a touch of cream and more zest and spices in the finish. This is not yet ready as it keeps on changing in the glass, but is quite fascinating to follow. This is a great success for this new wine in the portfolio! 2014-2019. 91/100 pts

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