‘It is perfect for the market, I like this style. I am looking for clean wines, not so opulent, indeed Riesling should be fine and clear and dancing. Not fat.’ Helmut Dönnhoff on the 14’ vintage
These are exciting wines, classically styled, reminiscent of the nervy vintages from the 80’s. They are packed with concentration and frenetic acidity; they have beautiful precision while holding onto youthful innocence. Time in the cellar will coax out their inner beauty.
2014 vintage – a warm start looked like it was going to be a very early vintage, however restorative rain from June through to September calmed the ripening. At the same time, humidity and the formation of botrytis as well as grey rot threatened. As soon as the grapes were ripe, swarms of pickers were enlisted to pick fast and selectively, so fast in fact it has been labelled the ‘turbo harvest.’ Dönnhoff doubled its picking team to ensure their grapes were brought in healthy and quickly.
Located in the lesser known German region of Nahe, Dönnhoff are one of the best riesling producers in the world! Packed with power and complexity, their weightlessness simply defies logic. Their sweet wines rival those of the best; Prüm, Loosen & Müller, while their dry styles hold similar pedigree to Weil & Keller. A unique area, Nahe manages to combine the sandy loam soils of Rheinhessen with the slate of the Mosel, but without the price tags of these regions!
Unlike 2013 where little to no kabinett and spätlese wines were produced due to heavy botrytis influence, 2014 plays to all the prädikat wein levels, as well as the powerfully savoury and textured Grosses Gewächs, the grand crus of dry Riesling.
GG’s can be quite austere in youth, age helps them unfurl, developing layer upon layer of honeyed richness and depth to the an eloquent fruit core. Subject to rigorous selection rules by the VDP (an influential group of some of the best German producers), each GG speaks of its vineyard, from the fiercely mineral Dellchen to the noble and spiced tones of the revered vineyard of Hermannshöhle.
Helmut Dönnhoff has been at the estate since 1971. He has great insight and intuition with his vineyards and over the years has gradually expanded the holdings. His son Cornelius is now at the helm, and like his father, seems to possess a lovely synergy with his surroundings. The wines have never looked better.
When to drink?
The vibrancy and transparency of these wines is very enjoyable while they’re young. The kabinett’s vitality is enthralling. Drink the estate and kabinett now for enjoyment, while all the other wines should age beautifully as there is excellent concentration and energetic acidity.
2014 Estate Riesling Trocken
Framing acidity around a savoury pithy core of crunchy green apples. Subtle florals add a pretty touch to this dry and energetic riesling.
2014 Tonschiefer Riesling Dry Slate
From the single vineyard of Leistenberg, this is often referred to as a ‘mini GG’. Steely lime, crushed rock and elderflowers lead into a finely palate
2014 Norheimer Dellchen GG
From a sun drenched amphitheatre on a steep slope. A kaleidoscope of aromas; jasmine, nutmeg, nashi pear, white nectarine and mandarin. The palate explodes into a deeply concentrated core, held in check with a salivating line of acidity. Angular and energetic, this needs time to develop.
2014 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle GG
The Hermannshöhle vineyard consistently produces wines of greatness, and this is no exception. Less spice driven than the Dellchen, more malt, honey and toffee apple with subtle cardamom notes. It has an underlying richness and stealth like potential with a driving line of acidity. This is an exciting wine, one for the ages.
2014 Oberhäuser Leistenberg Kabinett
From blue and black slatey soils off the same vineyard as the dry Tonschiefer. Hints of ripeness– paw paw, mandarin and freesia are surrounded by energetic and vibrant acidity. This wine is alive, tempered by a clever touch of residual sugar. One of the best young kabinetts we have tried.
2014 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Spätlese
Also from the famed Hermannshöhle vineyard, the later picked fruit is both pungent and precise. Grapefruit pith and heady gardenia scents. Ample core and intensity is framed by fervent acidity.
2014 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Goldkap Auslese (375ml)
A touch shy on opening; fennel, figs and zesty mandarin. The palate is another world, such intensity glides across. This is weightless yet dignified with an electric sweep of acidity that carries the flavours on and on. Breathtaking stuff.
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