2010 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese

Year: 2010
Appellation: Nahe
Country: Germany
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 91
James Suckling: 94+
White Wine
Price :
$34.95
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"Cheery blossom, lily, and peony scent Donnhoff’s 2010 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese, persisting on the palate accompanied by succulent white peach and refreshing lime. As with this year’s Kabinetts, here is buoyancy and elegance along with a lusciously-lingering, kissed-stone finish. Look for at least 15 years of delight.

Helmut Donnhoff is quick to point out that the challenges of 2010 would seem normal by 1980s standards, and he likes the sharp differentiation of site character that he thinks is enhanced in a cooler, well-watered vintage. He harvested through the first days of November, but voiced skepticism that one could have accomplished much – at least in his vineyards – thereafter. “We harvested like the world champions in the last days, practically around the clock, because the weather reports had forecast rain and that’s what we got,” he noted, handing me a slip of paper on which his vineyard manager had written a day-to-day report intended to explain to yours truly – who had a free day November 10 and had hoped to be present for some late picking – why the harvest here ended November 5. “It would have been nice to have been able to wait until the second half of October to have begun,” he adds, “but practically speaking, I need four weeks to harvest all of my vineyards, so in my mind I plan from back to front. You can’t just wait, wait, wait, or it might be too late, you’d end up rushing, and as a result lose out on precisely what would have been your best wines. We de-acidified the early pickings – simply with calcium carbonate,” he explains. “Acid levels were dropping, but very slowly, and in the end we arrived at levels of 9.5 or 10 grams in the must, which is still high, but by that time the levels of tartaric and malic were comparable (to one another), and with the strong must weights we had, it was enough to do the job.” Bottling for most of the wines took place in late May or in June, around a month later than usual. There was some discussion, notes Donnhoff, about whether to leave higher than usual residual sugar behind in the dry wines. “But I decided against that as I didn’t want to mask the wines’ character. To be sure, there’s a sort of hardness here – though it’s not a green, under-ripe hardness but rather (an expression of) sheer density. At first I had some misgivings about the (dry) wines, but later on, I didn’t merely reconcile myself to them. On the contrary, I really started to take pleasure in them, admiring their straight lines, their clarity, and their potential. I’m a fan of Clos St. Hune and a devotee of this puristic style.” Donnhoff has repeatedly expressed his satisfaction in being able to ostensibly “complete” his vinous tour of the middle Nahe – first by acquiring property in Norheim; then in Bad Kreuznach – but the expansion has taken yet another turn with the acquisition of two and a half acres in the red Permian sandstone Roxheimer Berg, for whose maintenance his son Cornelius – a critical if publicly little-known member of Team Donnhoff for some years now – will be responsible. It was another case of a site about whose many steep, once-prestigious and increasingly-neglected vineyards Helmut Donnhoff felt frustrated and apprehensive. “One by one,” he relates, “I gazed out at parcels about which I thought, ‘Man, if things go on the same way for another year or two, this vineyard will be finished,’ and I thought about the distance – seven or eight kilometers – from Oberhausen; and (my wife) Gabi could tell just what was going through my mind, so she grabbed me under the arm (and said) ‘No!’ “ ? to no avail. The old Riesling vines are being restored and a barren portion will be replanted, but 300 liters were bottled from the 2010 crop of (no, that isn’t a misprint) Gewurztraminer." (WA)

"($41) Pale golden yellow. Subtle honeysuckle aroma blends with hyacinth and lime on the nuanced nose. Pure, polished peachy fruit with a very refined minerality drift dreamily across the palate. Delicate and quite long. And eminently drinkable already." (IWC)

"2010 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese (mainly slate): Elegant white/yellow floral nose. White peach, strawberries. Very feminine and charming . Wonderful, cool yet sweet fruit. A lovely balance; vibrant and harmonious on the palate. I can taste all those lovely peaches and pears. The acidity and sweetness play well together to create a symphony of delicious flavors. 94+ points." (JS)

Winery Notes:
Who doesn’t love this wine, year-in year-out? Who could possibly not love it? It’s like a really cute girl (or boy) with a wicked sense of humor, and this year it’s a ripe riot of greenness, key lime, lemon grass, wintergreen, lime blossom, and with the juiciest lavish cut; you can’t bear to spit it. Yet it has 100˚ and a gravity-defying lightness. It strains rational sense but there it is.