This is only the second vintage Helmut has made of Hollenpfad, an historic, steeply sloping vineyard of red sandstone that the Dönnhoffs are restoring to its former glory. The name means ‘Pathway to Hell’, referring either to backbreaking work of working its steep slopes, or the glow the red soil exudes when bathed in the evening sun. Beautiful, airy flavours of grapefruit, fine lemon and tangerine dance across the tongue, finely etched into a structure that is lithe, toned and mineral. Displaying Zen like balance, this is an absolute beauty.
The Dönnhoff family bought a modest estate in the Nahe in the 1750s. In 1971 current owner, Helmut Dönnhoff produced his first vintage and has not looked back since. A regular on the shortlist of ‘German Winemaker of the Year’ and actual winner in 1999, Helmut’s work is helping the Nahe to take a share of the plaudits showered on the more internationally renowned German wine regions of the Mosel and the Rheingau. His cool, calm demeanour is a stark contrast to the demonic fervour with which he tends his vineyards. Only the best hand-picked fruit will do, in order to produce wines that are honest refl ections of the Riesling grape and the terroir its planted in whether it be the volcanic soils of the Kupfergrube (copper mine), the deep, cool Brücke, the slate/sandstone Hermanshöhle or the slate of the Leistenberg. Fermentation is in the traditional large old wooden casks and there is a light filtration before bottling. Some of Germany’s most intense, bewitching and mouthwatering wines, that mixes Rheingau body with Mosel minerality.
The Nahe comprises vineyards that occupy each bank of the river Nahe, to the south of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. The wines are often characterised by spice, red apple notes and intense minerality, and in the hands of producers like Hermann Donnhoff can be some of Germany's greatest wines.