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Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken was established in 1742. Hanno Zilliken, the cellar master here since 1976 and proprietor since 1981, has made the maintenance of traditions and the high standards of the estate's wines his mission. The estate has the deepest, coolest cellar on the Saar, with three levels below ground, and the wines are fermented and matured in German oak under optimum aging conditions; the natural humidity content is so high that there are stalactites are growing from the ceiling. For Hanno, though, the work in the cellar is secondary. He believes "the complete potential is within the vineyard itself. No wine can ever surpass what the soil, the vine and climate give it." The main site at Zilliken is the Saarburger Rausch (10ha) and a small holding in the Ockfener Bockstein (1ha) is used for lighter pradikats. Both are steep, rocky hills of grey slate, with one parcel of rare grey-green diabas slate in the Rausch. In the last few years, Hanno's daughter Dorothee has been increasingly taking over the winemaking duties. She defintiely has the magic touch! These Saarburger wines exhibit a subtle "dusty" terroir-driven character when young, along with incredible fineness of detail, gentle textures and excellent aging potential.
From John Gilman, A View From the Cellar, Issue #62:
"Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken have fashioned a stunning lineup of wines in 2015. Like several of their neighbors in the Saar and middle Mosel, the Zillikens have decided to produce a bit less dry wine this year and take advantage of the vintage’s great potential for Prädikat wines. However, the dry Rieslings that they have produced in 2015 were amongst the most beautiful dry wines that I tasted on this trip and it seems likely that this is one cellar where the legends of the vintage will not be exclusively Prädikat wines twenty years down the road!
It is one of my favorite vintages of all time in Germany and, based on the stunning quality of the entire range of 2015ers in the Zilliken cellar this year, the comparison certainly seems apt. One of the most interesting characteristics of the range of wines from dry up to the some of the Spätlesen in the cellars this year is the gentle signature note of botanicals that I found in almost every wine. I do not know how to really describe this aromatic leitmotif for the vintage at this great Saarburg estate, but it is a very discreet, but unmistakable savory note in many of the wines that I often find in the wines from Hanno Zilliken or Egon Müller when they are mature, but which is fairly rare to find in a range of their young wines. I assume that this note is a reflection of the absolutely perfect ripeness of the grapes that each and every wine was made from here in 2015, as the meticulous selection of the father-daughter team at Weingut Zilliken during the harvest was very much in evidence in the perfect balances and very precise personalities of each and every wine.
Hanno and Dorothee Zilliken have made some absolutely monumental sets of wines in the last decade, but my gut feeling is that these 2015ers may well prove to be the greatest vintage ever produced by Hanno Zilliken in his very long and illustrious career! Time will tell, but there is not a single wine in this lineup that I would not like to have in my personal cellar, as everything I adore in classic Saar Riesling is evident in the 2015ers from Weingut Zilliken. When presented with this type of beauty, words simply fail."