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
95+/100 Parker's Wine Advocate, Stephan Reinhardt (2015 vintage)
"The 2015 (Schlossböckelheimer) Felsenberg Riesling GG 'Felsentürmchen' is from the steep, south-facing cru with volcanic soils. It opens very pure and stony, with deep, flinty flavors and a lemon perfume sprayed over crushed stones. On the palate, this is a generous, intense and finesse-full Riesling with great intensity and lingering salinity. The wine seems round, but it has less than four grams of residual sugar. In fact, I have rarely tasted a Felsentürmchen that is so generous and Burgundian as this. In terms of texture, complexity and its compact nature, it is a bit like a Pinot Noir from Volnay. A great dry Riesling for sure, and its soul is clearly stony, flinty and more challenging than the smooth Dellchen, for example. The Felsenberg needs its time to show all its talents."
93/100 Vinous, David Schildknecht (2014 vintage)
"Smoky pungency of both blond and Latakia tobacco as well as piquancy of juniper and huckleberry share aromatic billing with intimations of the ripe white peach, Rainier cherry and grapefruit that go on to dominate a glossy, buoyant palate. A cooling suggestion of mint and basil lends a delightfully soothing contrast to the wine’s persistently pungent and piquant elements, leading into a finish of dynamic complexity and impressive sheer length."
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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