Piedmont (3.5 hectares)
Filzen / Saar / Germany

This estimable VDP estate has been absent from the American market for more than a decade. Piedmont was one of the founding members of the VDP (previously called the VDNV). This is a small estate at 3.5 hectares, but there is room to expand slightly, as Claus Piedmont owns almost 11 hectares in the Pulchen vineyard in Filzen. The estate and vineyards are in that village, the first village you come to as you leave the Mosel and head upstream on the Saar. Its vineyards face southeast, which in the old days before climate change was presumed to be a liability. Today it’s a guarantor of Saar prototypes – light, energetic and crisp. Previously this was a famous site and encompassed a much larger section. Today, much of the Filzen hillside is barren. Claus’ daughter Sitta Piedmont has finished her studies at Geisenheim and has plans already to replant 1.5 hectares of the best section of the hillside (which wraps from southeast to south). Soil is richer and denser at the base of the hill due to erosion, but higher up the hill the level of topsoil is thinner and dominated by weathered and broken grey slate.

These are Saar classics for super-reasonable prices, and yet they are slim but not thin, polished but not turned out, graceful but not bland. They are never very sweet. And they aren’t quite like anything else we are offered from the Saar. The vines are farmed sustainably – no herbicides or insecticides. Claus “works with the soil” adding humus when necessary. The wines are picked at high physiological ripeness, but not high sugar ripeness –they maintain the elegant character of the Saar. Fermentations are done in steel and old Mosel fuder – about 50/50 at this estate, and without any cultured yeast. Wines are treated gently here, racked 2 months after fermentation and kept on the fine lees until they are bottled, in spring. When asked: “Will you intervene to re-start a fermentation in order to have a fully dry wine?” Claus answered “We do no re-start of fermentation, no staggered enrichment and no later enrichment to have a later fermentation. Typical Saar Riesling wines should be light and fruit based.”

The Kabinetten are produced in a ‘feinherb style’ under 20 grams of RS, while the Spatlese are styled more like Spatlesen of 20 years ago, at between 40-50 grams of residual sugar.

  • Vineyard Area: 3.5 hectares
  • Annual production: 28,000 bottles
  • Top Site:
    • Filzener Pulchen: Grand Cru, weathered grey Devonian slate
  • Grape Varieties: Riesling