Our final day in Germany had us visiting 3 more producers. I was feeling terrible in the morning…I think jet lag caught up to me…I was a mess in the car ride to Donnhoff, but luckily recovered across the course of the day.
We had an amazing visit at Dönnhoff with Cornelius and Ann. I drink more Dönnhoff than any other German producer, so this was an absolute thrill. Paula, their dog, stopped in from time-to-time to say hello too, so that was always fun.
They have a great portfolio of wines, and we were lucky enough to try some stuff that either never makes it to the states or rarely does. Their sweet wines are off-the-charts good. This tasting reinforced that fact.
After the tasting we visited their Oberhäuser Brücke vineyard and got to check out the grapes still hanging in hopes of making some Eiswein. This was a visit I’ll never forget!
Paula eyeing the treats on the table:
2013 Dönnhoff Roxheimer Höllenpfad Riesling trocken - Germany, Nahe
I’d never heard of this cuvee before, and it’s one of the vineyards that the Donnhoff’s hope to revitalize after many years of neglect. The nose reminded me of a Gruner. Lots of pepper, melons, and citrus tones. The palate was incredibly sharp and focused. More melon tones, some lemon/lime parts, and pear. Thought the finish was a bit harsh…a hair too much acid. Overall a nice wine, though. (86 pts.)
2013 Dönnhoff Felsenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
From 60 degree slopes. The soils are volcanic, and the roots are quite shallow. The nose was spicy and floral. Its palate was tense and raw with stony citrus tones. My notes read, “rugged, rigid, and tense”. I’ve always thought Donnhoff excels with their sweet wines, but this is one of the dry ones that’s really quite nice. Young…but quite nice. (90 pts.)
2013 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
This vineyard dates back to Roman times, and the current average vine age is 46 years. Compared to the Felsenberg GG, this has more of an exotic nose. More apple/peach/nectarine compared to the Felsenberg’s lemon/lime tones. This was my favorite of the Donnhoff dry wines we tried. (92 pts.)
2013 Dönnhoff Riesling - Germany, Nahe
Peachy, mineraly, crisp, refreshing. This won’t change the world, but it’s a great entry level riesling. What’s not to like about that? (90 pts.)
2011 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Nahe
Opened 1 day prior. Definitely has the creamier vintage profile here. Not nearly as cut or precise as the 2013. Sure, it was opened for 24 hours, but you could tell this was less focused and a bit rounder. Still decent, but not like the 2013. (87 pts.)
2013 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Nahe
Hell yeah. Might be my favorite wine year-in, year-out from Donnhoff. So juicy and tropical with an edgy, taught, and precise palate. Textbook Nahe Spatlese. (96 pts.)
2003 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese Auction - Germany, Nahe
I don’t think I’ve drank too many auction bottlings from Donnhoff. We had been talking with Ann about the 2003 vintage so she pulled this bottle for us to try (pretty generous, huh?). The flinty/sulphury nose reminded me of what a lot of young Meursaults can smell like. Very dense lemon/lime tones, pears, peaches, apples. The palate was bright, tropical and awash in mouth-watering acidity. Thought this was brilliant. Another example of a 2003 that’s kicking butt right now. (96 pts.)
2010 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Eiswein Auction - Germany, Nahe
Not sure I’ve ever smelled a nose like this one. Super dense perfume filled the room as all of us poured ourselves glasses of this elixir. Apricots, florals, lychee, and pears…but those descriptors won’t do it justice. The great thing with world-class sweet wine like this is that the sweetness COULD be overwhelming if there isn’t acidity…and this Eiswein was so edgy and tense that the total package was ethereal. Donnhoff’s 2010 TBA is another 100 pointer for me, but this was edgier. The TBA had a bit more depth to it. Amazing wine, and the wine of my trip to the Mosel by a wide margin. (100 pts.)
2000 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Eiswein - Germany, Nahe
Brought from the US to the Nahe. An advanced bottle that had a lot of good tropical fruits and cream. I think general consensus was that it tasted more like a wine of 25 years instead of 15 years.
2012 Dönnhoff Spätburgunder Brut - Germany, Nahe
It’s very tough to try this wine after the sweet wine we had before it. Very sharp acidic tones with some melon and herbal tones. Reminded me a lot of the Cremants from Jura.
So hipster…Donnhoff Spatburgunder!
My favorite picture from the trip - taken from the Oberhauser Brucke vineyard looking back towards the Donnhoff estate:
Still holding out hope for some 2014 Eiswein:
Holy ground. Oberhauser Brucke:
The folks at Dönnhoff recommended that we have lunch down the street at Hermannshöhle. Very nice restaurant and we enjoyed a big lunch there before heading off to Schäfer-Fröhlich.
2010 Dönnhoff Weissburgunder Trocken 'S’ - Germany, Nahe
Had this with lunch and it paired really well with some smoked trout. Fresh, herbal, zippy. A really really nice pinot blanc. (90 pts.)
Spent a couple hours with Tim Schäfer going through a wide selection of his wines. His wife prepared an amazing potato soup for us and they also had a great spread of smoked fish for us.
The view from Tim Schäfer’s tasting room:
Tim Schäfer conducted a very academic tasting for us…his knowledge of his vineyards was impressive as were his wines. I thought that his dry wines were the best that I tried on the trip…right up there with Peter Lauer. He’s definitely one producer that knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to GG’s.
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Weissburgunder “S” Trocken - Germany, Nahe
From 45-50 year old vines. A touch salty, this was super fresh with limes and other tart fruits. Tim commented that the red slate the vines are on can give this wine a bit more of a body than other Weissburgunders in the region. Felt that was fair…it did seem to have more of a presence. (89 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Fröhlich Blanc de Noirs Trocken - Germany, Nahe
Nose of melon, chalk, and lemon. Palate had some wild strawberry, lime and florals. Light-bodied, full of finesse. Case buy all day long. (90 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Riesling trocken - Germany, Nahe
Tim calls this, “the calling card of the estate” as the grapes are sourced from all over. I liked this a lot, as it showed a lot of depth and character for an estate riesling. Good dose of acid, and a nice melange of tropical fruits. Very nice. (90 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Riesling Vulkangestein Riesling trocken - Germany, Nahe
A very intense, complex dry riesling. Palate had a lot of pear, subtle tropical notes, layers of florals, and a lot of chalky notes. Found this quite appealing. (91 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Riesling Schiefergestein trocken - Germany, Nahe
Super chalky wine that was more like liquid rock than anything else. Soft tones of citrus, but this was about the slate and the minerals. If you like fruit in your riesling, I’d avoid this. I thought it was pretty nice…not overly abrasive. (87 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenaur Stromberg Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
This takes the cake for being my favorite GG of the trip. Intense nose of spearmint, marijuana, and lemons. Very exotic…unlike any other GG I’ve smelled before. The wine had a beautiful green tinge - more characteristic of a Mosel riesling. The palate was fresh, chiseled from stone, but had some nice tropical layers to it too. Great combination of the sleek mineral notes and tropical tones. (94 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
Green, minty nose…again with those marijuana notes that the Stromberg had. Layers of flint, red berries, orange peel and florals. Lots going on here… (93 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Nahe
Lots of exotic fruits on the nose with some petrichor tones in there too. Peaches and mangos too. A bit reductive, the palate had bits of red fruits and tangerine. The acidity was a hair low so it felt a bit round to me. 55 grams of residual sugar. (86 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Nahe
The nose seemed a bit unripe…a bit odd, but whatever. The palate was quite nice, though. 90 grams of residual sugar is masked nicely by the acidity so it doesn’t come across as overly sweet. Those this was beautiful. Tim talked about this as “polished” spatlese and it does have a very put-together feel. (91 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Spätlese Goldkapsel - Germany, Nahe
Slightly reductive nose. There were some nice floral notes coming through with slate and nectarines. The palate had mostly cool fruits and a sharp acidic bite to it. Nice spatlese! (91 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Auslese - Germany, Nahe
A real beautiful, sleek Auslese. Color was almost clear, aromas were sleek and refined. And the palate seemed to be cofermeted with river stones. It had beautiful tones of tangerine/peach/pineapple…but the fruits were so cool and clear. To me, this seemed to have incredible aging potential. So racy! (95 pts.)
2013 Schäfer-Fröhlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel Auction - Germany, Nahe
So, these weren’t technically auction bottles when I tasted them. Tim made 300 375ml bottles, 150 of which are off to auction next year. The other 150 are for his own collection. Much like his regular Auslese, this was crystal clear and was a featherweight. The palate was intense without being sloppy, the flavors were precise, clear and distinct. One of the best bottles of the trip! (96 pts.)
On the road to Emrich-Schönleber:
Our final visit of the trip, and ES was a producer I knew very little about. Only 5% of their production makes it to the USA and they specialize in dry riesling. Frank Schönleber (the cellar master) conducted the tasting and was kind enough to pull some older bottles out of the cellar for us to try. Overall, their wines were good, but there were some wines that I thought missed the mark a bit. Definitely a fun visit, nonetheless.
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling “Mineral” trocken - Germany, Nahe
This wine comes from vines that surround the core Halenberg vines. Very fresh, good mineral cut. Only 5.8 grams of residual sugar, but I think there’s enough balance on the palate. Could see myself drinking a lot of this when the weather is nice and warm. (88 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling trocken - Germany, Nahe
Deeper nose of lemons, limes, and floral notes. Very lithe mouthfeel with good acidic cut. Thought this was really nice. (90 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling trocken - Germany, Nahe
For a dry wine, this was showing nice body. Lemons/limes/strawberry on the palate. A really nice wine that had a good floral lift going on too. (89 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
Super tart nose, sour cherries, lemons and deep limes and pear tones. The palate came across too shrill…the fruit was overshadowed by the crazy acidity. This embodies all that’s wrong with the GG style. (77 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
I liked the saltiness to this wine…it paired well with the wines lemon/lime notes. The palate had a nice composition of fruits/minerals/florals and good balance. (90 pts.)
2011 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling -R- - Germany, Nahe
Whiffs of raspberry, minerals and nectarines on the nose. The palate is, technically, halbtrocken. The touch of sweetness was very nice…elevating the wine a bit. (90 pts.)
2007 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Großes Gewächs - Germany, Nahe
Do GG’s age? Well this one has. Exotic aromas on the nose of peach, flint, and florals. Palate had a nice weight to it, nicely integrated acids, and a tightly wound core of salty citrus, lychee, and cherry notes. Delicious! (93 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Kabinett - Germany, Nahe
Melange of tropical fruits on the nose: peaches, mangos, and tangerines. Palate was juicy, ripe with more of the tropical fruit tones. 38 grams of residual sugar. A very nice Kabinett. (91 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Nahe
Ripe and rich. Lots of peach and other exotic elements. The acid seemed way too low for me…came across far too rich and gummy. (82 pts.)
2013 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Auslese - Germany, Nahe
Amazingly, 70% of the grapes that went into this had botrytis. It was, however, “dry botrytis” so the flavors of honey are there but aren’t overt and sappy. Very nice melange of tropical fruits with a weightlessness that I loved. 130 grams of residual sugar, I guessed closer to 200 grams. (92 pts.)
2010 Emrich-Schönleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Eiswein - Germany, Nahe
Loads of concentration, notes of apricots, creamy cherry, and lychee. Very powerful palate…the flavors were dense and extracted but with the nice acidity the wine was drinking very well. (93 pts.)
Hanging with Frank Schönleber
'twas a great trip.
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