Hailed by the likes of Robert Parker and Hugh Johnson and named Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year in 1999, Helmut Donnhoff is regarded in German Riesling circles as a super-star. And if you’re thinking that term is somehow an oxymoron, you’d probably find Helmut agrees. With the affable humility and deep deference to his vineyards of someone whose family have been making wine since 1750, Donnhoff believes that “winemaking alone cannot bring quality, it can only retain the available quality.” Wine is made in the vineyard, and from taking the helm in 1971 to the present Helmut has grown the family holdings from 4 hectares to a still modest 20 hectares of lovingly managed vineyards. 80% of which are Rielsing (many of them Erste Lage or Grand Cru) with the other 20%, reflecting Nahe’s less austere climates and more mixed clay and volcanic soils, given to Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. But Riesling is king, with Helmut Donnhoff’s many classics from the steeper slate soils having themselves played a prominent role, over the last forty years, in formalising Nahe’s reputation as Germany’s third region for consistently premium and Grand Cru wines.
What The Critics Say
93+/100 Parker's Wine Advocate, Stephan Reinhardt
From Schlossböckelheim's stony, volcanic soils, the 2016 Nahe Riesling Felsenberg "GG" 'Felsentürmchen' offers a very pure and delicate bouquet of crushed stones and ripe seed fruits. Lush and intense on the palate with generous but finessed fruit, this is a very elegant and well-structured Riesling with great balance and a long, salty-piquant finish. Very long and powerful yet pure and very charming.
92/100 Vinous, David Schildknecht
A bright, tangy amalgam of crab apple, white peach and lime is laced with site-typical piquant juniper and huckleberry, smoky black tea and crushed stone, along with thyme and tarragon, all of which components are shadowed in a high-toned aromatic display of nose-wrinkling penetration, not to mention on a silken-textured, dynamically complex palate that conveys impressive energy and leads to a gripping finish.
92+/100 View From the Cellar, John Gillman (2015 vintage)
"While the final analysis was not completed on any of the GGs, Helmut Dönnhoff felt that they would all be around 12.9 to thirteen percent in the 2015 vintage. The Felsenberg GG is a superb wine in the making, offering up a deep and youthful nose of grapefruit, blood orange, wild yeasts, petrol, stony minerality and a topnote of orange peel. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and absolutely rock solid at the core, with brisk, seamless acids and outstanding length and grip on the still quite primary finish. When one reaches the level of the Grosses Gewächs here, the wines are notably more refined than the very good Trocken bottlings from the Höllenpfad and Kahlenberg. The 2015 Felsenberg GG looks likely to be the earliest drinking of the grand crus from the Dönnhoff family this year, but will also age long and gracefully."
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