Donnhoff’s Niederhauser Hermanshohle Spatlese Impresses Even in a ‘Lesser’ Vintage…

With a reputation going back to the 19th century, this vineyard site was even one of the most highly taxed back in 1901, with its quality accruing a 1500 silver groschen tax compared to neighbouring vineyards on a 15 silver groschen rate. Thought to be named after the Roman god Hermes, the protector of travellers and messengers, and the Hohle or cave on the slope, this 8.55 hectare vineyard is based on grey slate and sand stone soils on a 30-45 degree gradient at 130 to 175m altitude.

When the 2012 Rieslings were released, they were considered by producers and the trade as slightly boring, uneventful, safe wines. Very little acid verve, unique character or electricity. But tasting this wine 6 years later reveals quite a self assured expression with some early development but plenty of delicious complexity. If you have them in your cellar, there’s no rush but they should be fairly interesting to drink now.

Niederhauser Hermanshohle Riesling Spatlese 2012, Nahe, Germany, 8.5 Abv.

Medium straw yellow, on the nose the lift and complexity shows allure and intrigue. Massive density and intensity, there are complex notes of white flowers, gardenia, kerosene rag, lemon marmalade, white peach and waxy yellow lemon peel. As a Spatlese, the wine shows richness and textural palate weight but not overt sweetness. There are delicious notes of soft honied peaches, lemon confit, apple purée, creamy resinous lemon rind and smokey honey on toast. An attractive wine drinking well now but will probably peak in 2 to 3 years time, and drink well over another 5 to 8+ years.

(Wine Safari Score: 92+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

The Jewel of the Pfalz ~ Tasting Reichsrat von Buhl’s Stunning New Release 2015 Pinot Noir…

Reichsrat von Buhl has been a family-owned winery for more than 150 years, and has belonged to the circle of the most prestigious wineries in Germany for just as long. Since it was founded in 1849, Reichsrat von Buhl has made its wines in a terroir-dominated style, focusing on using the best vineyard sites around Deidesheim and Forst.

Reichsrat von Buhl is also certified organic, and is an active ambassador of both natural, sustainable viticulture. Since 2013, it has been led by a new team including managing director Richard Grosche and technical director Mathieu Kauffmann. Long term viticultural manager Werner Sebastian remains responsible for the vineyards.

The 2015 Vintage

The region had already experienced a comparatively dry end-of-year 2014 in the vineyards of the Mittelhaardt. Then slightly above average rainfall in January 2015 brought some relief, but unfortunately was followed by seven straight months of very little rain.

Looking at long term averages, the region should have been experiencing a good 120mm of rainfall during the same period. Plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures and no rain – winegrowers could easily react to this trio of conditions with impatience. Finally, on the 18th of June a much hoped for downpour brought a good 10mm of rain, with subsequent showers on both the 22nd and the 27th of June, each delivering another 10mm of rain. Harvesting commenced on the 31st of August in one of the cleanest, highest quality, disease free vintages in recent memory.

Reichstrat Von Buhl Spatburgunder Trocken 2015, Pfalz, 13 Abv.

Vibrant ruby red colour, the nose of this serious 2015 is deep, broad, aromatically expressive and plush showing plenty of earthy black berry and red currant fruit, strawberry confit and subtle hints of pomegranate and ruby grapefruit citrus. The palate possesses all the seamless rich depth and textural weight of fruit you’d expect from a prestigious vintage like 2015, but impressively, remains quite defined, focused, elegantly balanced and deliciously pure with a subtle mineral lick. The oak is very much a backing melody, supporting fleshy red and black berry fruit concentration and a long, plush, layered raisined cranberry and caramelised red cherry finish. Powdery tannins, sublime harmony and thoroughly seductive. This is what top quality German Pinot Noir is all about. Drink now to 2028+.

(Wine Safari Score: 93+/00 Greg Sherwood MW)

Riesling Does Not Get Much Better Than This ~ Tasting the Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese 2016 with Cornelius Donnhoff…

One of Germany’s most beautiful river valleys and geologically speaking, the most varied and interesting. The small tranquil River Nahe joins the Rhine at Bingen and all along the valley walls, surrounding the little villages, vineyards adorn the countryside. The vineyards of the Nahe were first classified in 1901 and there are now 4,202 hectares of vines with a ratio of 75% white and 25% red, forming 2.3% of annual German wine production.


The Spring of 2016 started quite gently with pleasant temperatures and stable weather. However the rains arrived in May and continued to plague the vineyards, with the annual rainfall being equalled by late June already, and all at the critical flowering stage. Diligent canopy management was required until the rains finally stopped in July, ushering in a period of more tranquil conditions. The remainder of the summer was dry and bountiful, stretching all the way to the first day of picking on the 4th of October 2016.


Tasting with Cornelius Donnhoff today, he confirmed that they consider their 2016 Rieslings to be of outstanding quality and very comparable in quality with their block buster 2015 whites, across all styles.


Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Spatlese 2016, Nahe, 8.5 Abv.

From one of the Nahe’s most incredible vineyards, the 2016 Hermannshohle reflects the rewards for great terroir and another wonderful vintage, showing concentration and fine, intense suave acids. The wine is still in nappies but is already showing the real class of a “Grand Cru” quality vineyard. The nose is vibrant and expressive, showing citrus bon bons, white peaches, citrus blossom, and waxy tangerine peel spice. There are pretty wet slate notes to complement the pristine, crystalline fruits. The palate is rich, luxurious, and long, with incredible drive and intensity and a concentration of green apple pastille, crunchy white peaches, talc, musk, citrus oil and grey slate minerality. Such opulence, refinement and balance. Class personified. Young Riesling Spatlese from the Nahe, or anywhere, does not get much better than this!

(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)



 

There’s gold in them there hills…

A few weeks ago I travelled to Germany with my buddie Jamie Goode from Wineanorak.com to taste the 2015 new releases. Of course we knew the Rieslings would be epic if the vintage was half as good as producers were saying it was.

After almost a week of tasting whites and reds, from pretty much every major region of Germany, the wines that stood out for me were surprisingly the non-Riesling wines.

Don’t get me wrong, the 2015 Rieslings at all quality levels were amazing with many producers calling them the best vintage since 1976.

But I was blown away by the quality of Muller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner and Pinot Noir of course. Importantly, they represent such great value!


The Wittmann 100 Hills Pinot Blanc dry 2014 from the Rheinhessen typifies this fresh, 12.5 abv vibrant, smashable style of white that Germany is really excelling in at the moment. A tight, sleek, taught structure packed full of yellow citrus, crunchy pineapples, orange zest and chalky green apple minerality. While so easy to drink, there is nothing frivolous or confected about this wine. The perfect aperitif. (Wine Safari Score: 89/100 Greg Sherwood MW) Only £11.99 per bottle at Oddbins – Sept 2016. Noted as a Biowein.