2009 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese Nahe

SKU #1061849 96 points John Gilman

 Amongst the four brilliant Spätlesen that I tasted in 2009 from Helmut Dönnhoff, the Hermannshöhle is the pick of the litter this year. The wine offers up a brilliantly crystalline bouquet of sweet grapefruit, orange, a touch of wild yeasts, simply stunning minerality, citrus zest, dried flowers and just a brief glimpse of the petrol to come with bottle age. On the palate the wine is deep, medium-full and extremely long and dancing, with a great core, laser-like focus and magical length and grip on the seamless and utterly refined finish. A great, great wine. (Drink between 2015-2040)  (3/2010)

96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 After a performance like this for a Spätlese, the warning was hardly necessary! Dönnhoff's 2009 Niederhauser Hermannshöhle Riesling Spätlese offers a riot of herbal aromas reminiscent of but far more intense and diverse than that of the corresponding Grosses Gewachs, and here, too, accompanied by grapefruit and passion fruit in a manner that calls to mind Sauvignon. Horehound, licorice, sage, mint, black tea, nut oils, candied grapefruit rind, and crushed stone inform a silken-textured palate. As with the corresponding Brucke, there is a remarkable interactivity on display, and a depth of mineral and animal savor that goes beyond crustacean shell reduction or veal demi-glace, leaving me salivating helplessly. This should be worth following for 20-25 years. (DS)  (2/2011)

94 points Wine Spectator

 Balanced and ripe, delivering concentrated peach, nectarine and white plum flavors that are rich and well-spiced. Very ethereal on the finish, with long, vibrant notes of mineral and sea salt. Drink now through 2027. 180 cases imported. (KM)  (4/2011)

91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Tantalizing aromas of papaya, sweet herbs and incense. A discreet but intense apricot flavor rises from the mid-palate, accompanied by a subtle acidity. Animated, finely spiced spätlese with a deep, long finish. I may be underrating this. (JP) 91+  (1/2011)

K&L Notes

According to importer Terry Theise: "A liquid molten silver shower of spice; fresh, lunar, firm grip, minty; long, but it's a higher-up length, a breath-mint effect. If Brücke is a requiem, this is a wickedly comic operetta. If you prize explicitness you’ll like this even more."

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- While the rest of the world has often misappropriated the name--Welchriesling, Riesling Italico, Gray Riesling and Emerald Riesling are all names applied to varieties that are NOT Riesling--this exceptional German varietal has managed to maintain its identity. Perhaps its biggest claims to fame are its intoxicating perfume, often described as having honeyed stone fruit, herb, apple and citrus notes, and its incredible longevity - the wines lasting for decades. Aged Rieslings often take on a distinctive and alluring Petrol-like aroma. Within Germany, the grape seems to do best in the warming slate soils of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Other German regions that turn out great Rieslings include Pfalz, Rheingau and Nahe. German Rieslings are made in a range of ripeness levels. The top wines are assigned Prädikat levels to describe their ripeness at harvest. These are: Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein and Trockenbeerenauslese. Riesling has also achieved acclaim in France's Alsace, the only region in that country where the grape is officially permitted. Alsatian Rieslings are typically dry and wonderfully aromatic. Austrian Riesling is also steadily gaining praise and fine Riesling is also produced in Italy's Alto-Adige and Friuli, in Slovenia and much of Central and Eastern Europe. In the New World its stronghold is Australia, where it does best in the Eden and Clare Valleys. It is also planted in smaller amounts in New Zealand. In the US, winemakers are eschewing the syrupy sweet versions of the 1970s and 1980s, instead making elegant and balanced wines in both California and Washington State.


- Thanks to a recent string of excellent vintages and to the reemergence of Germany onto the international wine writing scene, this is a country that's hot, hot, hot! Germany is divided into 13 wine Region and produces a very wide variety of wine styles, from incredibly high-acid, dry wines to some of the sweetest, most unctuous concoctions on the planet and even a few surprisingly hearty reds. Most of the highest-quality wines are grown on steep banks along the rivers in these Region. Small vineyards are still mostly hand tended and picked, due to the difficult nature of mechanization on these slopes. White wine production accounts for nearly 80% of the total with Riesling being the most important varietal, though Muller-Thurgau is still more widely planted.