Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken

Mosel (Saar), Germany

Records from as early as 1742 show that the ancestors of the Zilliken family were active as wine producers in both Saarburg and Ockfen. The initial status and reputation of the estate’s wines were primarily the work of the Royal Prussian District Forester, Ferdinand Geltz (1851-1925). As an affirmation of his achievements, the estate still carries his name. In 1976 Hanno Zilliken and his father succeeded in restoring the original estate to its former size after it had previously been partitioned through inheritances. Hanno started in 1976 as cellarmaster and took ownership in 1981. In 2007, his oldest daughter, Dorothee joined the estate after completing her studies at Geisenheim and a two year stint at Schloss Vollrad in the Rheingau.

The estate has one of the most remarkable cellars anywhere. It is three levels below ground and the deepest cellar in the Saar. It offers an unparalleled environment with near 100% humidity and a constant cool temperature of about 48°F. It is here that the wines are fermented and matured in German oak (neutral) 1,000 liter barrels also known as Fuders.  This cool, damp environment provides optimal conditions to produce Rieslings with great aging potential. These are quintessential Saar Rieslings. Top wines from the great 1983 vintage are still timelessly fresh, and we are currently offering delicious examples from 2003.

The estate owns 11 ha of great Saar vineyards, planted 100% to Riesling, and produces about 7,000 cs a year. The following Grand Cru vineyards are instrumental for the greatness of the estate:

Saarburger Rausch– (10ha.)Thinly layered slate, very gravelly with basalt rock, (Diabas), and veins of reddish earth. The Rieslings from the Rausch exhibit an interesting, subtle, dusty gout de terroir along with citrus, lemon balm and flint.

Ockfener Bockstein– (0.9ha.) Grey slate, sandstone laced with quartzite, gravelly, and intermittent yellow earth. Bockstein Rieslings are more steely and straight ahead but also present apples, pears and citrus.

The Zilliken Estate was a founding member of the Mosel VDP.

Our Selections

Zilliken Riesling Medium-Dry Butterfly 2016

Zilliken Butterfly is a "feinherb" or medium-dry style sourced mainly from the Saarburger Rausch grand cru with a small percentage of Ockfener Beckstein, both incredible sites. These are incredible sources for an everyday wine. 

The Butterfly is juicy and delicious, with crystalline clarity of flavor and a dash of celery salt sprinkled over a lemon and green apple core. It's as good or better than this cuvee has EVER been---proof positive that winemaker Dorothee Zilliken (who shepherded this wine into being) is a sure-handed heir to her father Hanno. 18g of residual sugar, 7.5g acid and 11.5% alcohol.

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Zilliken Estate Riesling 2015

Soils: Devonian slate and diabase
Harvest Technique: 100% hand-picked
Origin of Grapes 100% estate grown
Vinification: 100% in neutral Fuder barrels
Wine Style: off-dry/fruity

The liquid equivalent of the girl next door, this Riesling is as natural, lovely and pure as a country lass carrying an aromatic basket of apricot, melon and wildflowers. Those same fresh and juicy flavors are then chased across the palate by a racy acidity before settling down for the long, lingering and forever finish of true love.

An ideal complement to a wide variety of wholesome or raw pairings from sushi to a bowl of freshly picked fruits!

Alcohol: 10.5 % vol.
Residual Sugar: 45,3 g/l
Total Acidity:    7,7 g/l

MoselFineWines: 90 points


Zilliken Riesling Kabinett Saarburger Rausch 2015/2016

Zilliken's 10 hectares in this historic vineyard sit atop soil containing everything from medium-gray, fine layered Devonian slate to the rare green slate known as diabase, which originated as volcanic magma. The roots of the Riesling vine penetrate up to 10 meters deep in the rock face. From the depths of the Rausch soil the Riesling draws its characteristic minerality and an incomparable elegance. 

"The 2015 Rausch Kabinett is beautifully filigreed and nascently complex and is destined to be a cellar treasure with sufficient bottle age. The magical nose jumps from the glass in a crystalline blend of pineapple, sweet grapefruit, loads of youthful smokiness, gentle mossiness and a great base of slate minerality. On the palate the wine is pure, medium-full, complex and dancing, with great intensity at the core, bright, ripe acids and stunning length and grip on the still quite primary finish. A superb young Kabinett. 2021-2045. 94+ points"

-John Gilman, View From the Cellar, Issue #62