Dönnhoff: when to drink?

Hi Terry, Happy New Years!

I have really fallen in love with Dönnhoff over the past 5 years and have a lot of them (9 cases) piling up in my cellar. I always feel a little guilty drinking them young (have been through 3.5 cases during the same time), but they offer SO MUCH appeal in their youth. I’ve certainly had enough examples of other producer’s 71’s and 76’s over time to have an appreciation for the majesty of aged Riesling.

BTW, my rule of thumb has generally been to try to hide all of my Auslese hoping for greater majesty down the line. I simply can’t keep my hands off the Spatlese, but I tend to do a lot of my baby killing with Kirscheck (oh WOW do I love this one) and Felsenberg. I try to stay away from my Brücke and Hermannshöhle. And I have never really played with the few Kabinett that I have.

Anyway, I know this is a somewhat unanswerable question, but I would love ANY perspective you can offer.

Thanks in advance!

Following up - there are a number of comments on line (here and elsewhere) about Donnhoff not aging well. Comments?

The comments about Dönnhoff’s wines not aging well are…hmmm…politely? misinformed.

That said, the wines are really miraculous when young. They have all their minerality and texture right there before you, and they’re mysterious and hard to resist.

In the in-between phase they appear to lose a little force. Adolescence is tough on a lot of us.

In their mature form they seem more introverted. They’re not as obviously APART. Even when they’re ready they still need time.

So, here’s when to drink them if you’re a normal person who bought the wine retail in the U.S. and stored it maybe less than perfectly but still good.

Kabinetts: 6-8 years.
Spätlesen: 9-12 years.
Auslesen: 15-20 years.

If any of you are ever lucky enough to visit the winery, and if Daddy is feeling munificent that day, trust me, you’ll drink 25-year Kabinetts, 30-35-year Späts and heaven-alone-knows how ancient Auslesen, and all will indeed be revealed.

Anyone out there own any 1990 Brücke Auslese? Drink and believe.

OK, so it is as I feared, and I am committing criminal infanticide against my Spätlesen. I will try to be a better boy and be more patient… I guess I do have some that are starting to get near their windows…

Thanks Terry!

It’s a question of what you seek, Eric. A case can be made for drinking the wines within a year of bottling IF you want to catch them in their charming baby-fat phase. They show a certain complexity that’s harder to see later, when they begin to esterize and take on more tertiary notes. But what I would say is, if you miss them in the first year, then really try to wait.

Not to steal Eric’s thread, or combine it with Ben’s earlier question, but it’s discourse like this (or Miran Kegl’s old “helicopter” posts on EBob) that sometimes worry me that I will never get German riesling. I know I appreciate a mature riesling, because I have been lucky enough to have consumed wine with folks like Beth Sheligo & Andy Raffle in the past where mature bottles just blew me away. But I can honestly say that I’ve never had a Donnhoff that I thought was “all that”, and when I see Terry post about Donnhoff’s being great young, I think back to a yak-inducing 2003 Niederhauser Spat that I couldn’t even get through on release, or a tasting I held last year where an '04 Oberhauser Brucke Spat was literally blown away by an '04 Nigl Privat & '04 ZH Clos St. Urbain.

As Terry said to Ben (and I paraphrase), if I don’t get them ultimately it’s no big deal, because there certainly is enough Austrian riesling that I do like to tide me over, but when I read about how great Donnhoff’s wines are young and realize that they haven’t done a thing for me yet, I do worry that somehow I’m missing the boat. Then again, one positive is that with all the many admirer’s of his wines on this Board, if I do eventually decide to throw in the towel, I shouldn’t have much of a problem getting rid of them on Commerce Corner [wink.gif] .

are these recommendations Donnhoff specific or can they translate to other producers? ie JJ Prum, Fritz Haag, Weins-Prum, Kerpen, Selbach-Oster?


They can translate in general terms, but not always literally. Willi Schaefer’s wines, to name but one grower, need a ton of time.