Nahe, Germany, WINE

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Germany's rich, illustrious wine history can stand proudly next to the rest of the world's great regions, but its recent history has been somewhat more checkered. For centuries, the country's nobly sweet Riesling wines were considered the finest on Earth. But by the late 20th and early 21st centuries, this style had long fallen out of favor with the general public, both in Germany and abroad. The dry, or trocken, style now encompasses the majority of German wine production, but the best contemporary winemakers have held fast to tradition and held themselves and their peers to strict quality standards.

The late-ripening Riesling grape is perfectly suited to the sweet style and perfectly suited to Germany's best vineyards, the most northerly in the wine growing world. First, only Pinot Noir can match Riesling's ability to convey such a pure sense of time and place from such highly specific plots of land. Second, the profile of luxurious sugar and fruit allied to bracing acidity is simply inimitable. Many regions have tried. All have failed. The sweet wines, or Prädiktat wines, are legally defined according to must weight and actual alcohol content. Kabinett is the first tier on the pyramid, typically bright and fresh in style with exuberant fruit and racy acid. Spätlese wines are riper in natural sugars and potential alcohol, fuller in body and residual sugar, and longer lived in the cellar. The Auslese tier takes wine to another realm of expression and complexity with intensely ripe fruits married to ultra-fine, filigreed acid. The super-premium tiers of Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Eiswein are to the point of defying description. Exceedingly rare and exorbitantly expensive, they are among the wine world's unicorns, and enjoying one is the treat of a lifetime, indeed.

In terms of terroir, Germany's wine identity is defined by the five-mile-long wall of vines in the middle Mosel River Valley. The best plots of vines cling to steep inclines (up to 60% in some places) on beds of weathered slate soils, said to impart the region's trademark "petrol" character to the wines' bouquets. Along the river's snaking course, the best sites enjoy southerly exposures to take full advantage of the day's rays, even late into the season. Many of Germany's greatest wine estates are based in the villages on the Mosel, but its tributaries, Saar and Ruwer, boast their own fair share of iconic vineyards and producers, with the wines generally more elegant and austere than those from the river's main course.

Where the Mosel meets the mighty Rhine river, there begins the rest of Germany's wine mosaic. The Nahe is another of the river's tributaries. Southeast of Mosel, it's more of a patchwork of vineyard sites, on both the main Nahe branch and along some of its tributaries. The wines are generally riper and more unctuous than the Mosel's, but great growers are finding new levels of refinement each year. At an eastward bend in the river, the historically majestic Rheingau's prized, south-facing vineyards produce wines of elegant subtlety and austerity. Where the Rhine turns south again, the Rheinhessen's easterly wall of red slate, known as the Roter Hang produces wines of luxurious sweetness and spicy minerality. Further down the river, the Pfalz is perhaps Germany's most exciting wine region today, as it sits in the lee of the Vosges mountains, far from any major river, making it Germany's driest, sunniest micro-climate. The resulting Rieslings display a honeyed decadence and body with riveting acidity, characteristic Riesling but wholly Pfalz at heart.

Away from this stretch of the Rhein, Germany's lesser-known regions quietly excel with often obscure native varietals and a few transplants. With Germany's most northerly vines, the tiny Ahr river valley grows some of the country's best Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder, on steep blue and black slate slopes. A few top producers are now making wines to rival the heavyweights from elsewhere, with a meaty, ripe density and firm texture. In addtion to Spätburgunder, Germany's best indigenous red varietals also see great success in Baden, in the country's Bavarian south. Trollinger and Lemberger thrive particularly well around Württemburg. Franken, on the other hand, has a world-class reputation built on a white grape, and it isn't Riesling. The densely compact Silvaner does best here on the limestone soils, and the top wines are as ageworthy as most great Rieslings.

Germany's wine reputation may rise and fall with the fortunes of one varietal, as it should. But that one varietal is unlike any other, and with time the country's upstart mavericks will continue to make waves with the other staple grapes here, as well. Through highs and lows, the heart and soul of Germany's wine scene have stayed strong, and they're only getting stronger.

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94 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): The fruit here pulls in a tropical direction... but pineapple, Persian melon and mango are no less lusciously on display... A polished, subtly creamy texture is delightfully compatible with animatingly bright fresh fruit juiciness, and the vibrantly and… ...
V 94
WA 93
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Schlossgut Diel Riesling Spatlese Nahe Dorsheimer Pittermannchen 2015  (#329684)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

94 points David Schildknecht (Vinous): The fruit here pulls in a tropical direction... but pineapple, Persian melon and mango are no less lusciously on display... A polished, subtly creamy texture is delightfully compatible with animatingly bright…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 10 available
$48.95
$55.00
Save $6.05 (11%)55.00
Save $6.05 (11%)
92+ points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2018 Kirschheck Spätlese from Weingut Dönnhoff is another excellent example of the vintage. The wine is pure, very floral in personality and quite expressive out of the blocks, offering up scents of white cherries, pears, bee pollen, slate and a… ...
JG 92
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Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese Norheimer Kirschheck 2018  (#334717)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

92+ points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2018 Kirschheck Spätlese from Weingut Dönnhoff is another excellent example of the vintage. The wine is pure, very floral in personality and quite expressive out of the blocks, offering up scents of…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great rarity to find not one, but two completely clean… ...
JG 95
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Donnhoff Riesling Auslese Gold Cap Oberhauser Brucke 2018  (#334719)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great…

375ml Half Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The Leistenberg has the oldest vines of all the Dönnhoff parcels and they have really excelled in 2018. This beautiful Kabinett offers up a complex bouquet of white cherries, apple, salty slate, bee pollen and a lovely mix of spring flowers and fruit… ...
JG 93
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Donnhoff Riesling Kabinett Oberhauser Leistenberg 2018  (#334715)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

93 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The Leistenberg has the oldest vines of all the Dönnhoff parcels and they have really excelled in 2018. This beautiful Kabinett offers up a complex bouquet of white cherries, apple, salty slate, bee…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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97 points Fine Wine Review: The Oberhäuser Brücke Eiswein was harvested on 10 or 12 December and the grapes were very healthy. The nose shows pure peach blossoms that are intense but with great subtlety. The mouth is intense and piercing with peach fruit -- this is just as an Eiswein should be. 7.5%… ...
FWR 97
JG 96
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Donnhoff Riesling Eiswein Oberhauser Brucke 2012  (#333297)

Dessert Wine from Nahe, Germany

97 points Fine Wine Review: The Oberhäuser Brücke Eiswein was harvested on 10 or 12 December and the grapes were very healthy. The nose shows pure peach blossoms that are intense but with great subtlety. The mouth is intense and piercing with peach…

375ml Half Bottle | In stock, 1 available
92 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2018 Kahlenberg Trocken was still in cask. This is superb and again, shows off the supreme elegance of the vintage at the winery this year, wafting from the glass in a very complex aromatic blend of pink grapefruit, tart orange, stony minerality,… ...
JG 92
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Donnhoff Riesling Kreuznacher Kahlenberg Erste Lage Trocken 2018  (#334709)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

92 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): The 2018 Kahlenberg Trocken was still in cask. This is superb and again, shows off the supreme elegance of the vintage at the winery this year, wafting from the glass in a very complex aromatic blend of…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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95+ points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...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… ...
WA 95
JG 92
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Donnhoff Riesling Felsenberg Turmchen Grosses Gewachs 2015  (#327938)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

95+ points Stephan Reinhardt (Wine Advocate): ...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…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
94 points James Suckling: A Spätlese with a stack of fruit (peach, apricot and all manner of citrus), but also considerable elegance. Then the minerals cascade over your palate at the long, super-clean finish. Could easily hold for many years -- that's if you can resist it now. Screw cap. (11/29/17) ...
JS 94
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Schafer-Frohlich Riesling Spatlese Bockenauer Felseneck 2016  (#330697)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

94 points James Suckling: A Spätlese with a stack of fruit (peach, apricot and all manner of citrus), but also considerable elegance. Then the minerals cascade over your palate at the long, super-clean finish. Could easily hold for many years -- that…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
91 points James Suckling: The hint of funk and the spirtz add excitement to this light and succulent riesling that's brimming with lemony freshness. Drink now or hold. Screw cap. (11/29/17) ...
JS 91
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Schafer-Frohlich Riesling Kabinett Bockenauer Felseneck 2016  (#330698)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

91 points James Suckling: The hint of funk and the spirtz add excitement to this light and succulent riesling that's brimming with lemony freshness. Drink now or hold. Screw cap. (11/29/17)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$32.95
$40.00
Save $7.05 (18%)40.00
Save $7.05 (18%)
96 points James Suckling: Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that's still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it’s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably clean in spite of the generous grape sweetness in… ...
JS 96
WA 94
WS 93
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Donnhoff Riesling Spatlese Niederhauser Hermannshohle 2016  (#330120)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

96 points James Suckling: Another 2016 Spätlese from Dönnhoff that's still a bit shy on the nose, but on the palate it’s like a huge glittering diamond with more facets flashing many colors. An extremely long super-mineral finish that is impeccably…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JS 96
WA 94
WS 93
$49.95
$60.00
Save $10.05 (17%)60.00
Save $10.05 (17%)
The Spätburgunder Weißherbst from Schäfer-Fröhlich is a dry rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes. The elegant and delicate bouquet is composed of a restrained strawberry fruit, cherry, plum, lime peel and floral notes, accompanied by a distinct flinty aroma. In the mouth it is refreshing and playful,… ...
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Schafer-Frohlich Spatburgunder Weissherbst Rose Trocken 2018  (#334841)

Rosé from Nahe, Germany

The Spätburgunder Weißherbst from Schäfer-Fröhlich is a dry rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes. The elegant and delicate bouquet is composed of a restrained strawberry fruit, cherry, plum, lime peel and floral notes, accompanied by a distinct flinty…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$22.95
$26.00
Save $3.05 (12%)26.00
Save $3.05 (12%)
95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great rarity to find not one, but two completely clean… ...
JG 95
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Donnhoff Riesling Auslese Gold Cap Oberhauser Brucke 2018  (#335121)

Riesling from Nahe, Germany

95 points John Gilman (View From the Cellar): For several decades, Helmut Dönnhoff has been of the opinion that an Auslese is a wine that needs botrytis and every example here has been a botrytized wine, at least to some degree. So, it is a great…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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