The Saarburger RAUSCH vineyard stands as a Riesling heaven, a historical gem of the Saar region for centuries spanning nearly 26 hectares today. Situated on the central slope at the outskirts of Saarburg, where history intertwines with terroir, the RAUSCH pays tribute to the zenith of Saar Riesling around 120 years ago, presenting it in its purest form.

Max Kaindl, 03. December 2023
Reading time about 3 minutes

Saarburger Rausch:
where Riesling meets volcanic elegance

Deep in the Saarburger RAUSCH with Dorothee Zilliken

This summer, my journey to the Saar brought me back to Saarburg. Alongside the inviting charm of the old town, my primary destination was the Zilliken winery. There, I rendezvoused with winemaker Dorothee Zilliken. While I had visited the winery several times before, this visit focused for the first time on exploring the vineyards, especially the flagship of the estate and most dedicated site in Saarburg, the Saarburger RAUSCH, as well as the distinctive Zilliken cellar.

Today, let me share more about this genuinely unique Riesling vineyard, RAUSCH. My impressions from the impressive Zilliken cellar and their current wine collection will be covered in another article.

A One-of-a-Kind Vineyard

The sky above Saarburg gleamed, prompting Dorothee to promptly guide me through the multifaceted Saarburger RAUSCH. We commenced our journey in the oldest parcel of the site, just beneath the vineyard sign on the town’s outskirts. In this soil, up to 130-year-old, ungrafted Riesling vines take root.

Here’s a quick rundown of the facts:
The RAUSCH, classified as a VDP Grosse Lage, stretches along the central slope above the town, facing the castle, precisely at the spot once known as “Franzens Knüppchen.” From this vantage point, it not only offers a breathtaking view of the picturesque town of Saarburg but also a wine landscape gently meandering into a side valley of the Saar. With slopes ranging from 35 to 75 percent and an elevation ranging from 160 to 295 meters above sea level, the RAUSCH is a true masterpiece of nature. The soils, characterized by medium-gray Devonian slate and the unmistakable Diabas, are the source of Rieslings with impressive minerality and consummate elegance.

Important side note: The RAUSCH’s history and prestige are intricately linked to the Zilliken name, akin to Müller with the Scharzhofberg in Wiltingen or Prüm with the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. The Zilliken family tends to a proud 11 hectares in the RAUSCH, almost half of the total area of the site.

Diabas – the influence of volcanic rock on Riesling

But what makes the Saarburger Rausch so special? This question has lingered in my mind for years, especially when savoring Zilliken’s wines. So, it was time to uncover the mystery. As befits a charming and humble winemaker like Dorothee Zilliken, she promptly replied, “Max, look around. It’s all about the vineyard. Its exposition, combined with the unique soil structure shaped by Diabas rock.” Dorothee would never overemphasize her own talent or that of her father, Hanno, as winemakers, though undoubtedly a crucial factor in the finesse of Zilliken’s wines. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. But now, back to the vineyard.

The soil, characterized by graywacke, fine-bladed Devonian slate, and reddish fine earth, is pierced by volcanic basalt, also known as Diabas. This volcanic influence gives the Riesling a very unique spicy character rooted in the depth of the soil, up to 10 meters below the surface. This exceptional composition is extremely rare and extends along the Saar only in the Konzer Tälchen over the vineyards of Krettnacher Altenberg and Krettnacher Euchariusberg.

The name “Steinrausch” or “Rusche,” a term for debris from the old dialect, hints at the rugged beauty of this place. The current vineyard name RAUSCH derives from this term.

The Saarburger RAUSCH, a place where the soils tell tales of history, invites you on a journey through the world of Riesling. Here, every sip is not only a delight for the palate but also a journey through the volcanic history of this unique terroir. Rightly one of the largest and most famous vineyards for Riesling worldwide.

Perhaps a reason why, alongside the Zillikens, other renowned winemakers from the Mosel and Saar, such as Markus Molitor or Egon Müller, have acquired parcels in the RAUSCH.

Pictures: © The Art of Riesling – Maximilian Kaindl

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