The stash of 1989s still resting in the Kramp cellar

1989 Hans Kramp: An Incredible Find In The Saar

Share

Lots of folks in the wine industry sell wine through storytelling. We prefer instead to tell you a little bit about a wine or spirit we like and why we think you should buy it; this can include anecdotes about the people who make the wine or perhaps some technical information about how they care for their vines or work in the cellar. We're not so great at writing florid prose and relating high-flying adventures. Nevertheless, the story of these wines and how they came into our possession, while it may not be the stuff of romance, bears retelling.

We had just finished an afternoon tasting of Florian Lauer's exceptional 2012s (you've bought some of these by now, right?) and were chatting with him about the history of his prime vineyard, the Ayler Kupp, and some of the old-timers in the region. While Florian's hard work and great wines are bringing a lot of attention to this part of the Saar, the Kupp has a long history of producing bright, lean, and balanced Rieslings – lighter than Florian's tend to be these days – and exceedingly mineral. His father helped bring fame to the Kupp, both in his work at the Bischöfliche Konvikt and at his own estate. Another name of some renown in the area was that of Hans and Rudolf Kramp; long-time fans of German wine will recall that the estate was briefly imported to the US many years ago by Terry Theise, but the wines have long since been absent from these shores, and the Kramps retired in the early ‘90s.

In studying the region we kept coming across the Kramp name (especially in David Schildknecht’s writing) and we learned that the wines were archetypal, old-fashioned expressions of Ayler Kupp – zesty, limey, taut and mineral Rieslings; I asked Florian if he knew them. Silly question! Ayl's a tiny town, and as luck would have it, the Kramp cellar is directly across the street from his. On top of that, when Kramp retired, Florian's father purchased the estate's plots in the Kupp (if you've ever had Lauer's 'Senior' or 'Stirn' you've had grapes from these vines), and now has access to the defunct cellar across the street. He said, "You know, there's some wine over there and they don't know what to do with it." Old Ayler Kupp from a respected grower, untouched for almost 25 years? Sign us up! We couldn't wait to taste, so we quickly ventured across the street to grab some bottles to sample. The cellar was locked, but that didn't stop Florian; we won't go into detail, but he's quite resourceful.

Upon descending into the cellar we were met with row after row of dusty old green bottles stacked over six feet high. Not a single bottle was labeled, but some of the rows were cryptically marked – there must have been some kind of organization, but it escaped us. Florian grabbed a few bottles from each row, and later that day we got to work tasting. We tasted quite a few of the wines, and they were clearly in three different styles, not to mention absolutely beautiful. After Florian sent the wines off for chemical analysis and some deep digging into the old Kramp books, it was determined that there were, indeed, three different wines from 1989: an off-dry QbA, a Kabinett Trocken, and a Spätlese. Florian designed some great labels that were influenced by the estate's old ones and took care of getting the wines registered for export. He cleaned them up (take a look at the pictures; after 25 years in the cellar, they needed it!) Now, we're able to offer them at insanely low prices for the quality. No one in Germany really seems to understand our insatiable thirst for old Riesling, and Kramp’s heirs were very happy to have the wines taken off their hands. We’ve recently tasted some samples again stateside and were thrilled with how they showed. Each of the three is distinct and a lovely example of its respective style.

See below for more detailed descriptions of each bottling, but know that across the board they are pale, clear, and incredibly youthful. The time in bottle has given each an added layer of complexity (there’s really nothing like old Riesling), but these aren’t the rich, golden-to-brown, aged Rieslings that have been sitting on a dusty shelf for 10+ years. This is an opportunity we’ll never expect to come across again, and quantities are good. The wines will arrive in early May and if you love Riesling, wines from the Saar, aged wine, high-acid wine, or even if 1989 is just a special year for you, we recommend you purchase as much as you can. -jfr

Kramp, Hans 1989 Saar Riesling Cooper's Wine

This is the most easy-going of the three; not intensely dry nor an ornate and finely-detailed wine of great length like the Spätlese, but it's off-dry and comes in at around 8% alcohol and 26 g/l sugar. This could have been either a Kabinett or a QbA (not chaptalized, of course) and Kramp's records don't indicate exactly how it would have been registered. It's easy to drink and shares some of the same aromatic qualities as the Spätlese and Kabinett; the Kupp's scrubby, herbal, citric character shines through bright and clear in all three of these wines. Where this one really performs well, though, is on its finish, when all sorts of unexpected layers of flavor start coming into focus, with notes of mint, tangerine, grapefruit and cinnamon. For whatever reason, there's significantly less of this wine than the others to go around as well. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $24.99

Kramp, Hans 1989 Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling Kabinett Trocken

The Kabinett Trocken may be the most historically interesting of the three Kramp '89s because, due to a variety of factors, (not the least of which is climate change), it's impossible to make a wine quite like this anymore. The wine is completely dry and has only a mere 9.3% alcohol yet it is fully ripe and full in flavor. Aromatically it's by far the stoniest of the three; there are some notes of ripe peach and the all-pervasive hint of cinnamon (common to all three wines) but this is much more a wine of herbs and slate than one of fruit. It's potently dry, vigorously fresh and brimming with energy; slatey, citrusy and leafy, this is quintessential Saar, and a piece of vinous history. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $29.99

Kramp, Hans 1989 Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling Spätlese

This is Spätlese as it once was; 9.4% alcohol and 36 g/l residual sugar. Compare this to the Lauer 2012 Ayler Kupp Spätlese (which is an excellent and delicious wine, by the way; this isn't a qualitative comparison), which carries 85 g/l residual sugar, and it's very clear that we're in a completely different ballpark, weight-wise and flavor-wise. This is exquisite Spätlese with cut, definition, generous but delicate peach and citrus fruit notes and Saar-y flavors of bright herbs and spices. Of the three Kramp wines on offer it has the most intensity and length, but on an exceedingly delicate and filigree frame. I almost wrote something like "this is Spätlese that a modern grower would call a Kabinett" and then thought better of it; modern growers just don't make wines like this anymore! -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white off-dry
  • 0 in stock
  • $29.99