2010 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Eiswein A P #30 375 ml

Year: 2010
Appellation: Nahe
Country: Germany
Wine Advocate: 95
Vinous Media: 97
Dessert Wine
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"Picked December 6, Donnhoff's 2010 Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Eiswein A.P. #30 leads with penetrating lemon meringue and kirsch; then - as I point out to Donnhoff - while remarkably creamy and weightless, seems almost ominously still and discreet when it first comes to the palate. "Don't worry," says he, "there's more than enough there!" Indeed there is. A flood of lemon and grapefruit rushes in, at once soothing and enervating, capped by honey yet without any superficial sweetness thanks to a classic mutual buffering of acidity, sugar, and extract. This finishes with nearly ineradicable penetration yet no sense of sharpness. I would keep careful tabs on it after the first ten or a dozen years, but you might well have a 20 to 25-year keeper on your hands.

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)

"Rich gold with green highlights. Crisp aromas of glazed pineapple, nut oils and frankincense. Rich, dense tropical fruit flavors show a honeyed texture but vibrant, uplifting acidity gives the middle palate a subtle complexity. The long finish combines juicy fruit and salty mineral layers. One of the great wines of the vintage." (IWC)

Winery Notes:
Aloe, strawberries, tansy; articulate and massively rich and insanely focused and yet also preternaturally calm, religiously peaceful, a sweet floating night-snow you see against the streetlights; the world only seems colorless and cold, below the snow the seeds are squirming.