We are delighted to release Dönnhoff’s 2019s. Without a doubt, some of the greatest Rieslings to come out of Germany. 2019 is a stellar vintage in Germany, albeit with small yields. What is really exciting is that we have managed to secure a large number of magnums. There is something so beautiful about the slender long Donnhoff bottles, even more so en magnum.
The Dönnhoffs trace their viticultural history back for at least 200 years, but it was Helmut Dönnhoff (he took over in 1971), who is responsible for transforming this estate into the leading wine-estate in the Nahe. In fact, today, it is rightly considered among the top echelon of Riesling producers in Germany. Anne Krebiehl MW writes “Helmut Dönnhoff’s devotion to his vineyards is exceptional, to him they are eternal treasures representing incontrovertible truths. He counts himself lucky to be able to be their guardian.” Today Helmut’s son Cornelius has joined his father, and year-in year out, as if it was the most natural thing on earth, the father-son tandem has been producing highly refined Rieslings, both dry and sweet. Dönnhoff’s style is racy with rich textures, complexity, and though delicious when young, they can easily age for 10+ years (or longer for the GGs).
The Nahe is unique for the breadth of its geology, with volcanic soil, different slate formations as well as tertiary sediments of gravel, sandstone and lime. Today the region is known, in the words of Anne Krebiehl MW “as the home of some of the most dramatic, breath-taking and spine-tingling Rieslings.” Nahe Riesling has often been described as combining the muscle of the Rheinhessen with the elegance and acidity of the Mosel.
2019 is a roller-coaster vintage with late frosts, heat waves (highest on record, but thankfully a wet spring and high water table helped), rain at harvest and a late flowering yet early harvest. The exciting news is that the wines are truly remarkable and early tastings show an incredible precision, play, zest, and structure with some critics comparing them to 2001 and say that some 2019s are among the finest young wines ever tasted. The bad news is that yields were low as a result of the spring frost.
We have focussed on four of our favourite vineyards, as well as their general dry Riesling, which is just gorgeous. Please note that no critic reviews are available yet due to COVID-19.
2019 Riesling QbA Dry, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £65 per case of 6 bottles in bond
Arguably the most famous Nahe vineyard and the benchmark to which other sites in the valley are judged. South facing and on slate soil, Hermannshöhle produces very powerful and long lived Rieslings.
2019 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £195 per case of 6 bottles in bond
2019 Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese Gold Capsule Halves, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £158 per 6 halves IB/£295 per 6 bottle case IB
2019 Hermannshöhle Riesling Grosses Gewächs, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £240 per 6 bottle case IB /£250 per 3 magnums IB
This vineyard has perfect drainage due to its topsoil of pebbles over loam soil. The wines are characterised by a mineral elegance. Due to the water table that flows beneath the vineyard’s soil, the Krötenpfhul has always been farmed organically, even before it was held by Dönnhoff. Great for the dry wines, especially. I also love the fact that Krötenpful means “toad pond”. There is a natural pond in the vineyard, which means there are indeed quite a lot of frogs.
2019 Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £78 per 6 bottle case IB /£95 per 3 magnum case IB
2019 Krötenpfuhl Riesling Grosses Gewächs Magnums, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £185 per 6 bottle case/£185 per 3 magnum case IB
The oldest recorded vineyard in the Nahe. A very steep, south-facing site on slate soils that produces very delicate fruity wines with spice. Usually, the fruit here is only used for slightly sweeter styles
2019 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese Magnums, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £135 per 3 magnum case IB
The name Höllenpfad means ‘path to hell’, and this is a likely reference to the red sandstone in the vineyard, which is an anomaly in the Nahe (similar to the Roter Hang in the Rheinhessen). The iron rich soil combined with the south facing element gives an opulent, exotic style of Riesling. This is only the third vintage in which Dönnhoff has made wines from Höllenpfad
2019 Roxheimer Höllenpfad Riesling Dry, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £105 per case of 6 bottles in bond
2019 Höllenpfad im Mühlenberg Riesling Grosses Gewächs Magnums, Weingut Helmut Dönnhoff @ £195 per 6 bottle case/ £205 per 3 magnum case IB
A little explanatory note:
Grosses Gewächs or GG denotes a top wine, similar to a Grand Cru, and is a dry style (usually less than 9gr/l and for Donnhoff probably less than 4gr/l)
Kabinett – is off-dry style.
Spatlese – slightly sweeter style than the Kabinett.
Gold Capsule – The Gold Capsule designation has no legal definition but is used by the winemaker to differentiate the best cuvee within a predikat, especially in the Auslese category.