2016 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Diabas

Year: 2016
Appellation: Saar
Country: Germany
Wine Spectator: 91
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 92
James Suckling: 95
Mosel Fine Wine Review: 93
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 11.0%
Price :
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"Well-integrated acidity provides support to the ripe flavors of yellow apple, rose water and tangerine zest. Smooth in texture, this gives off a refined feel. Mineral accents mark the long finish. Drink now through 2026. 100 cases made. -AZ" (WS)

"The off-dry 2016 Saarburg Rausch Riesling "Diabas" has a beautifully fine, ripe and aromatic Riesling bouquet that is perfectly intertwined with crushed gray slate aromas. Sourced from entirely healthy grapes, this is a round, dense, very mineral and tightly woven Riesling that was bottled with roughly 16 grams of residual sugar. The finish reveals some fine tannins and a clear, long and firm structure. Great finesse and length. One of the finest Diabas I have tasted at this domaine. Tasted March 2018.

The 2016 harvest was terribly small at the domaine from Dorothee and Hanno Zilliken. Peronospora destroyed almost everything in their Saarburger Rausch, where healthy grapes had to be hunted. "Our machines were in the repair shop when we had to use them for sprayings. We got them back a few days too late and couldn't protect our plants anymore," said Hanno when he served me a very few of his (excellent!) 2016s, which sold out in a very short time. Since many of his 2017s were ready to be bottled, I agreed to taste them, although my focus was on the 2016 vintage. To Hanno, 2017 is a top vintage like 2015, and he rates it above 2016 not just in terms of quantity but also quality. However, due to spring frost, the yields were reduced again, but it was not nearly as dramatic as in 2016. Hanno said that 2017 yielded four fuders per hectare compared to just two in 2016. "Although it's below our average of five fuders (or roughly 50 hectoliters per hectare), we are pretty happy with the resulting wines. They are based on fully ripe and healthy grapes with excellent acidity structures. However, we did not produce any Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese but downgraded our potential BA to a top class Auslese that will be sold at the auction in Trier in September this year." Due to smaller yields, three other wines are also missing in the 2017 portfolio: Rausch Alte Reben, Rausch "Diabas" and the generic Kabinett. During the tasting, I was deeply impressed by the lush and piquant character of the Prädikatsweine, namely the Kabinett, the two Spätlesen and the Auslesen from the Saarburger Rausch. The Grosses Gewächs ("GG") is also terrific, perhaps the finest I have ever tasted from this domaine. Unfortunately, I didn't taste any Bockstein so far but was happy to taste three historic wines from 2008, 1998 and 1988. The 1988 Eiswein is simply great and will be auctioned—in Magnums only!—in Trier as well." (WA)

"Scents of white peach and papaya project a riper impression than on the nose of the corresponding Grosses Gewächs, though that might be a function not just of the state of the fruit from which it was vinified but also of residual sugar, small differences in which can have a pervasive influence. But lest talk of sugar’s efficacy be misunderstood, let me hasten to note that the actual sense of sweetness here is extremely discreet. Fresh lime injects bright, animating juiciness into the silken-textured palate, serving as a delightful foil to the riper fruit elements. Like the corresponding village-level feinherb, this Diabas displays lovely floral notes – another feature that might owe something to the presence of residual sugar. The long finish incorporates a mouthwatering lick of salinity, although, for now at least, not quite the complex and savory mineral allure possessed by this year’s Grosses Gewächs. (For background on the Zilliken Diabas bottling, consult my review of its 2015 instantiation.)" (VM)

"Really complex herbal nose which is still very youthful. This has amazing depth and a sensational harmony for a wine that tastes dry and just 11% alcohol. The texture is silky and the finish is of extreme complexity. You could drink it now, but the longer you wait the better it will be. The only problem is to live long enough! " (JS)

"This immediately captures one’s attention through superb scents of pear, yellow peach, mint, whipped cream, spices and pineapple. The wine proves intense and also saturating in aromatics with beautiful depth and a mineral core full of energy and intensity on the palate. As if by miracle, the wine then opens up in the beautifully long, minty and spicy finish. There is a sense of ethereal lightness in the after-taste which is only tightened up by mouth-watering tartness. This off-dry Riesling is a great success and will be a great food companion over many years to come. 2018-2031" (FWR)

Winery Notes:
Tasting Notes:
Originally formed from cooled volcanic magma, the mix of diabase soil and Devonian slate found on the Saarburger Rausch produces a distinctive, one-of-a-kind terroir. This complex and aromatic Riesling is rich with contradictions. Stately yet sleek with deep expressive notes of dried yellow pears, apricots and a dark, spicy minerality. Layers of creamy, nuanced yet simultaneously bright yellow citrus flavors eventually mark a steady descent into a long, juicy, off-dry finish. This kind of stately grace comes from depth, not width.

Serving Suggestions:
A beautiful complement to a wide range of classic Riesling pairings, from baked monkfish to roasted rabbit to Asian-spiced short ribs.