Fine Wine Safari New Release Tasting Notes – Donnhoff Riesling QbA 2019…

While we are enduring this mad Covid-19 straightjacket, I have decided to release a few more of my new release tasting scores as individual snap shot wine posts. I get to taste so many incredible wines every day that I felt I need to share some of these experiences with readers within a more limited contextual setting.

In this vein, I caught up with Cornelius Donnhoff earlier this week for an incredible zoom tasting of a fantastic range of his wines but one white which really caught my eye, and generally tends to every year, was the Donnhoff Riesling QbA 2019 from the Nahe. Incredible quality and value for money, this is the ULTIMATE aperitif Riesling. One bottle will not even touch sides! But actually, watch out for all the new 2019 Donnhoff Rieslings that will start hitting the shelves of all good indie retailers from June-July onwards.

Donnhoff Estate Riesling 2019 QbA, Nahe, 10% Abv.

Fabulously pure fruited and crystalline, the 2019 vintage produced some deliciously fresh and energetic Rieslings combining excellent phenolic ripeness with vibrant balancing acids in an almost ‘Feinherb’ off-dry style. The nose reveals stony volcanic mineral notes from Donnhoff’s vineyards in Oberhausen’s southeast-facing sites of Kieselberg and Felsenberg which brim with backing aromatics of green apple bon bons, white peaches and fleshy yellow grapefruit citrus. Always bright, crystalline and slightly salty, this is one of the most phenomenal value for money quality Rieslings in the entire Donnhoff range and in 2019, it is once again a totally thrilling wine with concentration, balance and intensity. Fill your boots!!

(Wine Safari Score: 91+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)

Available in the UK from importer ABS.

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)

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)