The jewel in the crown of the Nahe Valley is undoubtedly the Hermannshöhle vineyard close to the commune of Niederhausen. It is arguably the Nahe’s best site and, with it’s South-facing, steep vineyards, it soaks up some of the highest numbers of sun hours in the production region. On the headland of a meander, the microclimatic conditions are ideal for both the storage of heat and relative protection from winds and frosts.
The black-grey slate slopes, combined with limestone and volcanic soils are also excellent for the cultivation of vines, particularly Riesling. The Riesling grown here achieves full ripeness with almost-unrivalled complexity and depth, not just in the Nahe region but Germany in general.
The site is operated by a number of wineries, one of which is the Dönnhoff estate in Oberhausen (Nahe). Dönnhoff produces a number of Riesling wines from the site including prestigious sweet wines all the way to its legendary premium dry Grosses Gewächs (Grand Cru).
Classically satin gold with a slightly green hue.
Extremely fresh and ripe with green apple, gooseberry, lime juice, grapefruit peel but also a fair amount of vegetation (fresh sage, mint and evergreen forest) right up until a slate-driven, almost smoky note at the end.
Attack of sweetened and lemon juice with a hint of lime cordial and grapefruit peel: all fresh and yet not overly sharp. This leads onto a thick yellow body with green apple, quince and Abate pears. There were some exotic nuances and these paved the way to an expertly worked-in slate finish with a touch of wet rock, and fresh, aromatic herbs. The smoke on the nose came through slightly but was gone in an instant and finished off the whole thing wonderfully.
The rounded and fullness of the wine is astonishing. Fresh as the day it was filled into bottles however with all the sharp edges rounded off and blending into one another. Thanks to this, the age of the wine is expressed with grace rather than tiredness and it helps to pull the whole thing together. Hermannshöhle and the expert winemakers at Dönnhoff make this wine one of Germany’s most important ambassadors – it doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to Riesling.
Enjoyed with the guys over at weinding (click here to check out their site)
The choice of James Bond in the earlier films and most probably the world’s most famous luxury and vintage Champagne, Dom Pérignon requires no introduction. Still....I’ll give it one anyway.
Whereas Pierre Pérignon is commonly named as the inventor of Champagne and the Méthode Champagnoise, he almost certainly wasn’t. I prefer the more modern term applied to the Benedictine monk: “the spiritual father of Champagne”. His Dom Péringon was a breakthrough product with quality, rather than production, in the foreground. Whilst DP might not be the finest Champagne Cuvée on the market anymore, it certainly belongs in the upper echelons.
Today’s Dom Pérignon is only produced in decent years – unlike a handful of other top producers’ entry-level wines, DP is always a vintage wine meaning that, if the grapes aren’t good enough in a certain year, they go into the wines labelled as “Moet & Chandon”, either vintage ones or not. Again, unlike several of the other luxury Champagne producers’ wines, Dom Perignon’s entry-level cuvée is made using grapes grown all over the region rather than only those from a declared individual site.
The 2003 wine is the second newest vintage on the market (after the 2004) and, whilst it will keep for decades, it offers lovely drinking right now.
Satin golf with a very fine mousse.
The nose was very reserved: more so than is typical for Champagne. There was a remarkable sense of fresh white peach and toasted white bread. Lemon peel was noticeable but only as a far-away aroma and not taking a foreground role in the slightest
The attack was of the finest lemon zest and delicate touch of stone fruit: the dusty peel of white peach and the sweeter notes of apricot were in there but they didn’t appear in the body. There was little juice but only the finest fruit-flesh. This made for very light drinking: hardly any harshness and yet the intensity of the flavour was in no way compromised. The finish carried on from the peach skin into a smoky, lightly wooded affair reminding one of the finish Burgundian, oak-aged Chardonnay. The yeast was very toast-like and I guess that a decent amount was used: it too is as reserved as the body and yet so unimaginably full of flavour.
Removing value-for-money from the equation for a second, this is a fabulous wine – utterly awesome in fact. It is about as perfect as I can imagine Champagne to be and so incredibly different to the non-vintage, branded wines I’ve tried before – it has more appeal, more taste, more class and a different depth than basic wines are able to offer. However, you can buy up to four bottles of Moët’s basic Brut for the same price and whilst that product is hardly a Champagne highlight, it’s better than 25% as good – far from (I think I awarded the non-vintage Moët 80 points a few years ago). Still, this is a must-try for anyone into wine and Champagne lovers….I’m hooked at least.
Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France and Petit Verdot Cuvee
This review has been posted elsewhere but, after waiting a month and a half, I've finally posted it here too.
Bought in 2010 for around 30€, this Pauillac fifth Cru is one of the most famous wines to originate from The Appellation. Situated in the south of the Pauillac AOC the winery is renowned for its improvement over the years, particularly those under the watchful eye of Jean-Michel Cazes and family. It continues to make a mockery of the 1855 Bordeaux classification act and its 2005, 2009 and 2010 wines have been labelled as some of the best wines to emerge from Pauillac and Bordeaux in those vintages.
This 2003 was slightly more reasonable than the nearly 200€ asking price of 2005 and 2000 and I've stored it for two years already before I opened it in July of 2012. This is my review.
With a suprisingly strong colour (even the hue was bright) this looked like a much younger wine.
There was lots of plum and red fruit on the nose to start: cassis played a major role in defining the red matter although there was some blackberry on the nose as well. Some spicy tobacco (although not smokey) notes were easy to pick out as well as a bit of leather, a drop of oak and some spicy black pepper too.
The plum driven fruit came straight at the attack bringing with it some red berry cocktail. Sweet red fruits drove the wine and when the finish came it was spicy and defined with some espresso coming through amongst the fresh tobacco. The finish did lack a tiny amount of refinement and, towards the end of the glass a sour aroma had picked itself up which was strangely out of place.
A great Bordeaux and a tell-tale Pauillac. The wine was not only well made but also drank in its perfect drinking window. Lamb and game would be the obvious choice although I’m sure that this wine would fit fantastically with beef dishes.
These days, this wine is a great deal pricier (around 100€). I hesitate to mention that there are some much more affordable (and even better) 2003 Pauillac wines out there to be had for around 50-60€ - try Chateaux d'Armailhac or Pedesclaux. Nevertheless, very good.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry