The Schodener Herrenberg (center) as viewed from the Saarfeilser

On the Lookout for Loch

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We've been reading for years about the wines of Manfred and Claudia Loch, primarily in David Schildknecht's glowing reviews that consistently end with some variation on the phrase "sadly, Loch's wines continue to have no U.S. importer". Finally, the wines are here and we're thrilled to be the first to offer these intricate, electric, and powerful Rieslings. The full name of the estate, Herrenberg-Loch combines the name of their most famous site, the Schodener Herrenberg, with their family surname.

The Lochs are among the first growers in the Saar to convert completely to organic viticulture and to go through the headaches of actually getting certified. Their focused and passionate work in the vineyard is complemented by detail-oriented, hands-off cellar work; a whole-cluster pressing is followed by fermentation in stainless steel with no added yeasts. The wines generally fall into what we think of as the golden mean for Saar Riesling, wherein the wine tastes dry but has too much residual sugar to be legally described as such. We keep beating this same drum, but Rieslings that inhabit this classificatory limbo are quite versatile with food, easily drinkable, will prove to be long-lived, and are, above all, extremely well-balanced (this is also the most traditional and historic of styles which first put Germany on the vinous map so many decades ago).

The Herrenberg is a hill of slate that's essentially in Saar Holy Land (at least for those of us who believe there's life outside of the Scharzhofberg), situated directly across the river from the Ayler Kupp and across the estuary from the Saarfeilser; these three famous vineyards all form a triangle of vinous greatness on either side of the Saar. If the stylistic descriptions above haven't yet brought to mind the superb work of Florian Lauer, hopefully the locale will drive the point home. Although they're certainly in the same stylistic and qualitative ballpark, the wines of Loch are different enough from Lauer to warrant exploration and a place on your table. Finally, we want to point out how lucky we are to be opening up this offer with some of the Loch's superb 2010s. This wild vintage has developed an intense following among many lovers of German wine and the '10s from our other favorites in the region have been long sold-out. The Saar is a hotbed of fascinating activity among Riesling growers of diverse mindsets and we hope you'll be as happy as we are to welcome Herrenberg-Loch to the party. -jfr

*Thanks to David Schildknecht's terrific write-ups for many of the details related here.

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Weinhof Herrenberg (Loch) 2011 Saar Riesling

Unlike Quasaar and Stoveler, this estate Riesling is the closest to actually being dry and comes from the friendlier vintage of 2011. This is a blend from multiple vineyards in and around Schoden and is, by all accounts, the best basic-level wine the estate has produced in years. Clean and precise with tons of energy, citric intensity and piercing minerality. A perfect intro to Loch's powerful yet chiseled style. Cool-toned, citric, straw-infused classic Saar aromatics. Really salty with great acidity on the palate; a zesty, steely and deliciously herbal white. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Weinhof Herrenberg (Loch) 2010 Saar Riesling 'Quasaar'

While some of Loch's wines are drawn from and named after former historic parcel names, in some cases it's easier to use a 'fantasy name'. The latter is the case here, and the whimsical name 'Quasaar' has been given to this wine which comes from within the original, historic section of the Schodener Herrenberg (a tiny fraction of today's vineyard, according to old maps). The aromas are classic Saar: bracing, herbal, steely and grassy. It's a bit more closed than the Stoveler at first but it quickly unfolds on the palate to display a long, layered, expansive and contemplative finish. This is very, very good Riesling. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $31.99

Weinhof Herrenberg (Loch) 2010 Saar Schodener Herrenberg Riesling 'Stoveler'

Stoveler is an old name for one of the highest and windiest sections within the boundaries of today's Herrenberg vineyard. The wind helps prevents rot and keeps the grape bunches healthy. Round, with very well-managed 2010 acids (not de-acidified, of course). Notes of tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple, even a hint of lychee and red plum, and a reasonable dose of RS keep this wine approachable and really well balanced. There's also some classic Saar herbal tones up front followed by a rich, deep-hued slatey-ness. This reminds me of a profound feinherb like Lauer's Stirn or Kern; it's tremendous wine and one to surely make a believer out of newcomers to the estate. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $38.99