A delicate scent of strawberry is the first to reach the senses. Then the butterfly flutters in through the open window and shows itself in all its splendor: a slender stature with fruity wings of white vineyard peach and very delicate nuances of violets. Playful as it is, it enchants us with its invigorating acidity and stimulates further enjoyment after just the first sip. It's always fun, not just on mild summer evenings.
Pairs well with seafood, especially mussels or gratinated scallops. Also pairs well with braised pork belly and white asparagus dishes.
Weingut Zilliken is one of the leading wine estates of the Saar region in Germany. Renowned for the steely precision of their Rieslings grown in the very cool climate and slate soils of the area, the Zilliken estate built its reputation with intense, yet delicate and nearly weightless Rieslings that “float like a butterfly.”
The Zilliken family seeks to carefully preserve the potential that the wine carries within itself. For them, wine is created on the vine; you cannot add anything in the cellar. So their greatest effort is in the vineyards, where meticulous attention to detail leads to healthy fruit and optimal ripeness for each style of wine. Their approach in the cellar is traditional and simple, with fermentation, clarification and maturation all happening naturally in old Fuder casks.
“Our goal is to produce Rieslings with the highest level of finesse and lightness,” says Dorothee Zilliken. The result of the family’s dedication is graceful wines of crystalline purity that express the rocky soils and cool climate with concentration, intensity and length.
Following the Mosel River as it slithers and weaves dramatically through the Eifel Mountains in Germany’s far west, the Mosel wine region is considered by many as the source of the world’s finest and longest-lived Rieslings.
Mosel’s unique and unsurpassed combination of geography, geology and climate all combine together to make this true. Many of the Mosel’s best vineyard sites are on the steep south or southwest facing slopes, where vines receive up to ten times more sunlight, a very desirable condition in this cold climate region. Given how many twists and turns the Mosel River makes, it is not had to find a vineyard with this exposure. In fact, the Mosel’s breathtakingly steep slopes of rocky, slate-based soils straddle the riverbanks along its entire length. These rocky slate soils, as well as the river, retain and reflect heat back to the vineyards, a phenomenon that aids in the complete ripening of its grapes.
Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically on the desirable sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type and altitude. The best Mosel Rieslings—dry or sweet—express marked acidity, low alcohol, great purity and intensity with aromas and flavors of wet slate, citrus and stone fruit. With age, the wine’s color will become more golden and pleasing aromas of honey, dried apricot and sometimes petrol develop.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.