Product information

Dönnhoff Dellchen Grosses Gewächs Riesling 2018



$131ea in any 3+
$124ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork


A historic steeply sloping vineyard which Dönnhoff awoke from its slumber. Steep terraces in a hollow with slate and porphyry soils. The vines are about 20 years old and yield about 35hl/ha. 100% selective hand harvest. The must is fermented and the wine matured in classic wooden barrels and stainless steel vats. Vigorously spicy and at the same time dancingly elegant with great depth and fascinating charisma.

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Why is this Wine so Yummy?

Dönhoff – Nahe

Helmut Dönnhoff and son Cornelius make the best wines in the Nahe region and some of the finest anywhere in the world. We can’t possibly overstate how much we cherish and revere these wines. They are sheer perfection in their elegantly defined structure and flawless harmony. The epitome of their meticulous winemaking is the Eiswein. Dönnhoff wines have such power and complexity that their signature weightlessness seems nigh on miraculous. One taste and you sense the magic. These wines are on a par with the best of Germany in a very unique way: the sweet wines rival those of Prüm, Loosen and Egon Müller and the dry wines are mentioned in the same breath as luminaries such as Wittmann and Weil. Very few – if any – have this degree of versatility…

About Cornelius Dönnhoff

Cornelius Dönnhoff bears with him the promise and burden of great expectations. Dönnhoff’’s world-renowned Rieslings were first carried into the international limelight by his father, but now it is the son assuming an increasing share of the responsibility for the estate in the small town of Oberhausen on the Nahe (population 400). “No one knows the Nahe, but everyone knows Dönnhoff,” they say in the USA. And with the recent conclusion of his seventh vintage, this young, university-trained viticulturalist has every reason to smile. He won three consecutive Feinschmecker Cups for his dry Riesling collection, and in 2012 the simultaneous distinction of both “Estate of the Year” and “Best White Wine Collection” from the renowned Eichelmann wine guide.

The Dönnhoff family first came to the Nahe region over 200 years ago, and after establishing a modest farm slowly evolved into a full-fledged wine estate. Helmut Dönnhoff has been making the wine since 1971, and now his son Cornelius works alongside in the winery and in their 25 hectares of Erste Lage, or grand cru vineyards. Their holdings represent some of the best in the Nahe and all of Germany. Oberhäuser Leistenberg, the oldest vineyard held by the family, has slate soils and produces fruity wines with elegant acidity. The Schlossböckelheimer Felsenberg is a very old site with porphyry soil. Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, perhaps the most famous of all the Nahe vineyards, is a slate vineyard with many conglomerates of volcanic rocks, mostly porphyry and melaphyr. The Oberhäuser Brücke, the smallest vineyard in the Nahe, is a tiny parcel saddled on the Nahe River that Dönnhoff owns in entirety. The Brücke has grey slate covered by loess-clay and the vines ripen even later here than in the Hermannshöhle due to large diurnal temperature swings along the river. The Norheimer Dellchen is a steep terraced vineyard in a rocky hollow with porphyry and slate soil. Norheimer Kirscheck sits on a steep south slope of slate soil and produces delicately fruity wines with spice and race. The Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl vineyard has perfect drainage due its topsoil of pebbles over loam soil; characteristic are wines with a mineralic elegance. Due to the water table that flows beneath the vineyard’s soil the Krötenpfhul has always been farmed organically, even before it was held by Dönnhoff.

Although the Nahe is a dry region, Dönnhoff does not water their vineyards as to encourage deep rooted vines. The soil is covered with organic material like straw and compost to preserve water and to avoid evaporation and erosion in heavy rains. The vines are all grown on wire frames, low to the ground to benefit from the warmth of the stoney topsoil, and at a density of approx. 6000 vines per hectare. The Riesling vines are old clones sourced from the sites in Niederhausen and Schloßböckelheim.

Grapes are always picked by hand at Dönnhoff over 2-3 passes through each vineyard. To preserve laser-like focus and clarity in the wines, the grapes are pressed as soon as possible – within 3 hours of picking. Wines are fermented in traditional German casks (1200 L stuck and 2400 L doppelstuck) as well as stainless steel with spontaneous fermentations. Donnhoff’s cellar is unique in its capacity to hold all of its production entirely in stainless steel or in cask, allowing for the ideal elevage for any wine at any point during a vintage.

Dönhoff’s 2018 Vintage Report

You’ll recall how Dönnhoff pulled it out of the bag in ‘17. It was a vintage the family had practically written off, after spring frosts decimated the crop. Uneven ripeness across the parcels meant even more passes than usual for the pickers, but the late-season weather yielded a superb if depleted haul from these superb sites in the Middle Nahe. So how did ‘18 measure up? It was a year of abundance, with extreme rainfall in May and June setting things up for a bumper harvest. And then it turned sunny and steady. “Even during the very warm and dry summer especially, the old vines didn’t show any hints of drought stress,” Helmut Dönnhoff told Stephan Reinhardt of Wine Advocate.

“Wherever we had a look, all our grapes were just marvellous, no matter in which vineyard. And the yield was even higher than we expected. The harvest weather was also beautiful, and all the grapes were in perfect condition, as if they were painted.” For his part, Reinhardt says both 2017 and ‘18 are marked by their amazing clarity, and he couldn’t pick between the two. Helmut, too, was extremely happy with the way the latter turned out. “2018 is a very, very good vintage. We got the same concentration and intensity like 2017, but in 2018, this is based on super clear and healthy grapes, whereas the density and structure of the 2017s was due to the heavy reduction during spring frost.”

Where in the World are They?

Dönhoff is based in the Nahe right next to the Rheinhessen.

Map by Fernando Beteta, MS @fernandobeteta on Twitter
99 Points

A dense and layered white with minerals, salt, white pepper, chalk, dried lemon and subtle pears. Pumice. Wow. Tiny film of oil. Creamy and insane. What a wine. Magic. One for the cellar. Drink or hold.

Nick Stock for James Suckling


As pure as the driven snow is just an old cliché, but one might be tempted to leave the description there in view of the inadequacy of words to describe the sophistication of the Dellchen. The fruit is filigree, the minerality cool and invigorating, the acidity exhilarating. Proof that opulence and power are not the be all and end all of great Riesling

Michael Schmidt,

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Bahnhofstraße 11, 55585 Oberhausen an der Nahe, Germany