Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 2018
Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel – Grand dessert wine – tropical fruits balanced to perfection against a glorious mineral acidity. For over 100 years, the Hermannshöhle has been revered as the Nahe‘s top-ranked site and the benchmark by which all other vineyards in the region are judged. It takes its name from a small mine, or “Höhle”, in the middle of the hillside. “Hermann” is derived from Hermes, the Roman god of messengers and travelers, and the name likely hints at an ancient place of worship once located here. This site faces due south and lies 130 –175 m above sea level. Its soils are primarily blackish gray slate mixed with extrusive igneous rock, porphyry and limestone. For generations, this marvelous site has shaped expectations for what fine wines from the Nahe can achieve.
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Like its Brücke counterpart, this Auslese reflects genuinely botrytis-free grapes, said Dönnhoff, but ones that were too numerous and too high in sugar to use elsewhere, “and certainly not in the Grosses Gewächs, which would then have ended up with 14% alcohol.” Sea breeze on the nose intimates the sweet-saline savor of raw scallop that emerges on this wine’s lusciously lingering, mouthwateringly umami-rich finish. White peach and quince preserves feature throughout, reinforced on the soothingly creamy palate by nougat-like nut essences. There is an animating, juicy fresh-fruit aspect as well, and a wonderful sense of both focus and transparency to stony and ore-like nuances.
The grandchild of the estate‘s founder, Helmut Dönnhoff, paved the way for international success by establishing an enduring quality and style in his wines. His vintages would in fact become a byword for renowned German Rieslings the world over. Following his training at his parents‘ estate and university studies in winegrowing, he assumed responsibility for both vineyard and cellar starting in 1971. “Extraordinary wines are based on extraordinary vineyards. I‘m fortunate to have had the opportunity to acquire several world-class sites and in some cases to resume cultivation. It remains very much a privilege for me to produce wine from vineyards of such exceptional quality. It‘s more than I ever could have dreamed when I first started working.” This deep understanding of grand wines and grand vineyards was passed on from father to son to grandson.
The fourth generation now holds the reins: Cornelius Dönnhoff. He began his training in 1999 and, after a series of positions abroad, in 2007 returned to assume responsibility for the estate – initially for the vineyard and cellar, and now for all aspects of the operation. History continues, but the estate remains what it has always been: a family affair in every sense.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.