The Saar and Super Tuscans - September 10, 2008 - Host: Ben and Ron

The Saar


2001 Scharzhofberger Kabinett - Von Kesselstatt


1999 Scharzhofberger Spätlese - Von Kesselstatt
1983 Ockfener-Bockstein Spätlese - Dr. Fisher


2001 Scharzhofberger Auslese - Gold Kapsel - Vereinigte Hospitien
1988 Serriger-Schloss - Saarsteiner Auslese
1976 Ockfener-Bockstein Auslese - Staat

"Super Tuscans"

(not restricted by Chianti regulation, used different methods to impose flavor)

Piano del Cipresso - Terrabianca

Single vineyard, 100% Sangiovese with 12 months in French oak casks. Owner sacrifices quantity for quality)

1993 (rated 91)

Concerto - Fonterutoli

80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet. Out of production in favor of the flagship Castello di Fonterutoli, which is very well-known and consistent, and different than the lesser Chianti Fonterutoli. The prominent Sangiovese/Merlot mix is called Siepi, which is good.



2003 Oberremmeler Hutte Eiswein - Van Hevel


Notes - The Saar

One of the premium Riesling producing wine regions in Germany is the Saar, which is part of the Mosel region (the English usually call it Moselle, using the French word for the river). In fact, the Mosel wine region used to be called (until 2007) "Mosel-Saar-Ruwer", the latter two being small tributaries to the larger Mosel river. Along the three rivers about 13,400 hectares are under vines these days, most of the vineyards are found on steep slopes, offering breathtaking views.

Riesling is a white grape variety which originates in the Rhine region Riesling in an aromatic grape variety displaying flower, almost perfumed, aromas as wwell as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally pure, and are seldom oaked.

As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world's 20th most grown variety at 47,700 hectares (120,000 acres), with an increasing trend. But, in terms of importance for quality wines, it is of Germany, usually included in the 'top three' white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Savignon Blanc.

Riesling is a variety which is highly 'terroir-expressive,' meaning the character of Riesling wines is clearly influenced by the wine's place of origin.

Saar Rieslings

  • Well balanced, 'filigree like' acid compositions
  • Known for their explosiveness, zest, intensive aromas, and have structure and balance.
  • Although low in alcohol, they usually impress with a long finish

The Saar Rieslings show:

  • Minerality, lively acidity and delicate, tender fruit aromas
  • The climate is slightly cooler than the Moselle, and the vineyards are located at a slightly higher elevation, some of which are situated along the side valleys of the Saar. The Saar is open towards the northwest, so that cool winds have a direct influence on the microclimate
  • The Saar wines are racier in style in some vintages with great minerality and elegant fruit; the goal is to maintain this character of finesse, transparency and raciness
  • The Saar has its problems, namely the climate is marginal for vine growing, and only a small number of producers have the dedication and endurance to overcome the odds.

Ockfener Bockstein

  • Is one of the best sites along the Ruwer, with weathered slate and very deep soils. Because of the high content of fine slate soil and its good water-holding capacity, these wines show great minerality and are exceptionally wonderful in dry, warm vintages.
  • The wines are very fruity, juicy and full-bodied - a great pleasure for a Riesling fan.


  • Ideally situated facing south and southwest. The decomposed slate covering it absorbs and reflects sunlight during the day and, at night, radiates the warmth on the vines.
  • A superb wine from the Saar region with tremendous flavor, yet elegant and gragrant. Some say 'one of the world's finest' wines.

Riesling Glossary

To fully understand what makes Riesling such a great wine grape, it's necessary to learn a few specialized wine terms:

Oechlse [UHX-leh]. The German ripeness scale based on specific gravity of the must. It measure the same thing as the American Brix scale. In the Rheingau, for example, a wine much measure 96 Oechsle/22.6 Brix or more to be considered an Auslese.
Riesling [REEZ-ling]. A favorite white whine grape. Included here mostly for the pronounciation, which still causes problems for a lot of English-speaking wine lovers.
Kabinett [KAB-in-net]. The first of the Prädikat wines in Germany. This is typically the lightest and most delicate style that an estate will produce. Kabinett is made from normally ripe grapes and no chapalization is allowed. In a region like the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Kabinett will be quite light and delicate, indeed, often with just 7-8% alcohol.
Spätlese [SHPAYT-lay-zeh]. German for "late-harvested," Spätlese is the second of the six Prädikat quality levels in Germany. Spätlese has more richness and body than Kabinett because the grapes are allowed to ripen for an extra week or more. Once harvested, the wine can be fermented fruity (lieblich), half-dry (halbtrocken) or dry (trocken), depending on the preferences of the winemaker.
Auslese [OWS-lay-zuh]. Means "selected from the harvest." This is the Prädikat level for overripe, late-harvested grapes that are selected cluster by cluster. Often made in the fruity style with residual sweetness, Auslese is considered by most winemakers to be their finest achievement (aside from the rare dessert wines). Top winemakers often make several Auslese from different selections based on botrytis levels.
Goldkapsel [GOLD-kap-sel]. German for gold capsule. These are used to distinguish a special selection wine from it's "normal" counterpart (e.g., Auslese and Gold Kapsel Auslese). Used most often for Auslese. If more than two Auslese were made, a "long" gold capsule is also used. Some producers used gold capsules on all of their wines and, thus, are forced to use stars on the label instead.
Trocken [TROCK-in]. German for "dry." Most wines, except for the rare dessert wines, can be fermented to dryness, if desired. A wine with very high acidity, however, will need a little residual sweetness.

Notes on Super Tuscans

Tuscun Vintage Ratings:

2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997
94 92 93 91 83 95 89 95 91 97

Rosso wines use the same grape but usually younger vines and less time in cask. Lower cost and earlier drinkability!


Page last edited: May 20, 2024 (EB)

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