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
18.5/20 JancisRobinson.com, Michael Schmidt
"A delicate fragrance delights with filigree notes of fresh mint, chalky minerality and the fruit of ripe apple, Williams pear and a hint of orange. On the palate the Höllenpfad simply excels in essence of fruit, not too juicy or piquant, but just absolutely pure. If there’s such a thing as relaxed minerality, it’s here with a fine salty tang that just puts the finishing touch to a crystal-clear expression of Riesling. (MS)." Drink 2020 - 2030
92/100 View From the Cellar, John Gillman
"The 2018 Höllenpfad Trocken is outstanding as well this year, offering up a fine bouquet of pineapple, tart orange, a lovely base of minerality, spring flowers and a topnote of orange peel. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and shows off lovely mid-palate depth, with a lovely girdle of acidity, fine focus and grip and a long, snappy and quite youthful finish. This will need some time in the cellar to properly blossom, but will be excellent." Drink 2026 - 2055+
"The steep red sandstone slopes of the Höllenpfad have produced a lovely wine here in spite of the drought-affected 2018 vintage. It has some grip and texture at this stage, with plenty of dry, refreshing salinity providing a backbone for the gentle pear and tangy apple and lime flavours to lean on. Its 6.2g/l of residual sugar does a fine job of filling out the palate without bringing unnecessary sweetness. Barrel sample." Drink 2019 - 2032
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