Wine Review: Dönnhoff Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Großes Gewächs 2013

donnhoff rieslingIs the hipster romance with Riesling over? Sommeliers and wine experts have been pushing Riesling for years as the next new “hip” varietal. But sales figures show it has never really caught on. Jason Wilson in a recent article in Wine Searcher argues  the Riesling promotion failed because the wines on offer here in the U.S. are too sweet. There is probably some truth to that—the premium wine drinkers I hang with are not into sweet.

I love a good Spätlese and there is no wine that goes better with spicy Asian food. But truth be told many of them lack the acidity to stay refreshing on the palate and the drier Kabinett-level wines are often made from inferior grapes, since Kabinett doesn’t get a premium price.

What the wine world needs is quality, dry Riesling—like this Dönnhoff. Anyone who drinks this will fall in love. Hands down the best Riesling I’ve had in some time.

Clear, precise aromas of white peaches, lemon and grapefruit with touches of tropical fruit. Complex and very intense. Stunning, bristling  acidity on the palate, kinetic yet rich and juicy, finishing with a stony resonance. An elegant wine but with a taut, nervous energy like Catherine Deneuve on the lam. Dry but not bone dry and extremely well-balanced.

The problem for Riesling promoters: They can’t create a mass movement with $70 wines. But if you’re tired of Chardonnay and don’t mind splurging to get quality, seek out German wines labeled VDP, especially if they carry the additional designations GG (Grosses Gewachs) or Erste Lage. VDP is a membership organization that includes most of Germany’s top wine estates. Its members must adhere to more stringent standards than those set down in the German wine law. Their best dry wines are labeled Gross Gewachs (great growth) or Erste Lage (first-class site).

Yes. You have to do your homework to find good German wine. The Germans are hard-working people and think you should be too.

Score: 95

Price: $70

Alc: 13%

The crystalline energy of Björk’s Pagan Poetry will pair well. This song gives me the chills:

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