Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wine Tasting and Cellar Tour at Weingut Dönnhoff with Christina Dönnhoff – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Picture: Tasting with Christina Dönnhoff at Weingut Dönnhoff

In the Nahe region, we visited three producers: Dönnhoff, Kruger-Rumpf and Diel. We started out with Weingut Dönnhoff, where we were hosted by Christina Dönnhoff, Cornelius Dönnhoff’s sister.

Pictures: In the Nahe Valley

The Dönnhoff family has been making wines for more than 250 years, but a new era started when Helmut Dönnhoff began making wine in 1971. Helmut Dönnhoff has become a living legend of German wine and is celebrated as one of Germany’s very best producers. While Helmut Dönnhoff is still fully involved in all aspects of Weingut Dönnhoff, his son Cornelius has officially taken over from his father a couple of years ago.

 Picture: Arriving at Weingut Dönnhoff

Weingut Dönnhoff

The Dönnhoff family first came to the Nahe Valley over 200 years ago. The Dönnhoffs were a mixed farm up until the 20th century, with cereal crops, vegetables, fruit and livestock in addition to grapes. Helmut's grandfather Hermann made the transition from mixed farm to focus entirely on winegrowing. Helmut Dönnhoff took over day-to-day responsibility from his father in 1971. From the initial 4 hectares of land Helmut Dönnhoff expanded the estate to now 25 hectares. Today, Helmut’s son Cornelius Dönnhoff is responsible for the wines.

In terms of Riesling, Weingut Dönnhoff splits its production between the dry and sweet styles. “Riesling has 2 faces – it has a good reputation for dry wines and it has a good reputation for fruity sweet wines. We used to use the best grapes for the sweet style wines, but the fashion has shifted to dry wines. Now high class dry wines are being made. Global warming has helped. Acidity is lower now and the grapes are riper, so the quality of wines has improved” says Helmut Dönnhoff.

Pictures: Cellar Tour with Christina Dönnhoff


Weingut Dönnhoff’s holdings represent some of the best in the Nahe and all of Germany:

The Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg is a very old site with porphyry soil.

The Oberhäuser Leistenberg, the oldest vineyard held by the family, has slate soils and produces fruity wines with elegant acidity.

The Oberhäuser Brücke, the smallest vineyard in the Nahe, is a tiny parcel saddled on the Nahe River that Dönnhoff owns in entirety. The Brücke has grey slate covered by loess-clay and the vines ripen even later here than in the Hermannshöhle due to large diurnal temperature swings along the river.

Picture: Christian Schiller with Helmut Dönnhoff and his Wife and Steffen Christmann in Seattle

The Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, perhaps the most famous of all the Nahe vineyards, is a slate vineyard with many conglomerates of volcanic rocks, mostly porphyry and melaphyr.

The Norheimer Dellchen is a steep terraced vineyard in a rocky hollow with porphyry and slate soil.
Norheimer Kirscheck sits on a steep south slope of slate soil and produces delicately fruity wines with spice and race.

The Norheimer Kahlenberg: Southern slopes with quartzite and loam soils.

The Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl vineyard has perfect drainage due its topsoil of pebbles over loam soil; characteristic are wines with a mineralic elegance. Due to the water table that flows beneath the vineyard’s soil the Krötenpfhul has always been farmed organically, even before it was purchased by Weingut Dönnhoff.

The Roxheimer Höllenpfad: steep, south-facing site with weathered red and stone soil.

Pictures: Helmut Dönnhoff receiving the Ombiasy Group in 2013

Although the Nahe is a dry region, the vineyards are not watered as to encourage deep rooted vines. The soil is covered with organic material like straw and compost to preserve water and to avoid evaporation and erosion in heavy rains. The vines are all grown on wire frames, low to the ground to benefit from the warmth of the stoney topsoil, and at a density of approx. 6000 vines per hectare.

"We do not irrigate at all. We irrigated in the 1950s. My father and his colleagues did it for frost protection. After 10 or 15 years of doing it we realized that the wines were not better. In particular we saw that in places we did not irrigate, the wines were better. The roots went deeper, the wines were more intense. So we stopped irrigation 25 years ago” says Helmut Dönnhoff.

Cornelius Dönnhoff is Stuart Pigott’s Winemaker of the Year

A few months ago, German wine journalist Stuart Pigott published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine

Sonntagszeitung his favorite German wines and favorite German winemakers of the year – in German (Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 23. November 2014, Nr.47, Seite 54-55). Stuart Pigott’s Winemaker of the Year 2014 is: Cornelius Dönnhoff.

At first sight, this award should not come as a surprise. Snooth, for example, recently listed Weingut Dönnhoff as one of the top 10 Riesling producers in the world. At the same time, however, the highly regarded Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland deleted Weingut Dönnhoff from the prestigious 5/5 grapes group in its 2015 edition. The rumor was that the demotion was triggered by the handing over of the primary responsibility for the wines from father Hellmut Dönnhoff to son Cornelius Dönnhoff.

Stuart Pigott argues – and I fully agree with him - that the demotion was completely unjustified: "To make a winery famous is a great job, but to take over a world-famous wine estate from his father and keep it at the highest level is much more difficult. And this is exactly what Cornelius Dönnhoff has achieved to do in an impressive way. His dry and sweet Riesling wines are among the best white wines in the world.”

Picture: Cornelius Dönnhoff and Stuart Pigott at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Awards Ceremony (Photo: Cornelius Dönnhoff)

The Wines Christina Dönnhoff Poured

Christina Dönnhoff: “Grapes are always picked by hand over 2-3 passes through each vineyard. The grapes are pressed as soon as possible – within 3 hours of picking – and fermented in large wooden casks as well as stainless steel”. Wines fermented in wooden casks typically spend 2–3 months in cask and then go to stainless steel.

Pictures: Tasting with Christina Dönnhoff


2013 Dönnhoff Tonschiefer Riesling dry
2013 Dönnhoff Roxheimer Höllenpfad Riesling dry
2013 Dönnhoff Felsenberg “Felsentürmchen” Riesling dry GG
2013 Dönnhoff Hermannshöhle Riesling dry GG


2013 Dönnhoff Krötenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett
2013 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett
2013 Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese
2013 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke (Monopole) Riesling Spätlese
2013 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel
2012 Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel
2013 Dönnhoff 2013 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke (Monopole) Riesling Eiswein


Thanks Christina for a wonderful event.

Pictures: Bye-bye

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Coming-up: Wine & Art Tour to Saale-Unstrut - Saxony - Franken - Württemberg: Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (June 11 - June 20, 2015)

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Weingut Pawis (Saale Unstrut): Estate Tour and Wine Tasting with Kerstin Pawis – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Kloster Pforta: Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Managing Director Christian Kloss – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Winzerhof Gussek in the Saale Unstrut Region: Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour and Tasting with Owner and Winemaker André Gussek – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Tour and Tasting at the Historic Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Bickel-Stumpf in Franken: Vineyard Walk and Wine Tasting with Reimund Stumpf, Matthias Stumpf and Melanie Stumpf-Kröger - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau: Tour and Wine Tasting - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wining in the Steinberg Vineyard – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Visit: Winzerhof Thörle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wine Tasting at Weingut Kühling-Gillot in Bodenheim: Kühling-Gillot and Battenfeld-Spanier Wines – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

One of the Bio-dynamic Stars in Germany: Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn in Östrich, Winkel – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

In the Mittelrhein Valley, an UNESCO World Heritage Region – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Clemens Busch – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel, with Johannes Selbach – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Von Hövel in Konz, Saar Valley, Mosel, with Owner and Winemaker Max von Kunow - Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Lunch and Wine Tasting at Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt in Morscheid, Mosel with Owner Annegret Reh-Gartner – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

schiller-wine - Related Postings (Weingut Dönnhoff)

Top 10 Riesling Producers in the World – Snooth 2012

An Afternoon with Riesling Star Winemaker Helmut Doennhoff at Weingut Doennhoff in Oberhausen in the Nahe Valley, Germany

New Generation – The 111 Best Young German Winemakers (A Listing by Stuart Pigott)

Cornelius Dönnhoff, Weingut Dönnhoff: Stuart Pigott’s Winemaker of the Year, Germany

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