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Average critic rating : 91.0 points
The 2006 Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Spatlese delivers luscious, juicy ripe poached peach and red raspberries dusted with brown spices and pepper. Intense and faintly sweet-tart in character at this youthful stage, it lacks the clarity or levity of the Kirschheck, but certainly not the sheer length, which is saltier, smokier, sappier, spicier, and altogether more insistent. Not that this needs to try too hard to convince me either to take the next sip, or to revisit another bottle in a few years. It should have a good 15 years in it. From a quartzitic site along the Nahe at the edge of the city (and which might have been built-on had the municipal water supply not been located there, the reason also why it must be farmed organically), ||“I was amazed when the 2006s tasted as good as I had said they might become,” says Helmut Donnhoff. “It turned out what we vintners always said about Riesling – that’s it’s ideally suited to our clime – is true. I guess I didn’t really didn’t believe that in quite complete seriousness. I ran around the cellar like a crazy man, tasting back and forth” in excitement as the quality of this latest collection became evident. Sample it starting almost anywhere, and you’ll be a believer, too. “If there is one vintage I could compare with this, it would be 1971 as I remember it, with this perfect tension between acid and sugar, this clarity, a bit of botrytis but not stinky, completely clear and mineral, structured, architectural.” In the 21 years I have been visiting him, I have never known Helmut Donnhoff to permit himself such superlatives. “We set the record, harvesting everything in two weeks,” he adds. Trying to handle so many sites needing so much selection in so short a time “was close to the limit, and we managed it only because I have really good people” picking. This year, Donnhoff added to his line-up vineyards in two of the three traditionally top sites of Bad Kreuznach, parcels whose purchase in 2003 he had kept under wraps until now. On the one hand he felt that acquiring parcels another step downstream and in his “home city” and which – like those in Norheim – had once been proudly maintained by “wine nobility” but more recently neglected, followed a theme and closed a circle. “I see myself in the line of cellar-masters who were my mentors. If I didn’t do it,” he says, “there was nobody else left.” On the other hand, he had in mind that vineyards “not quite so close to my heart,” but still top quality (“because a lousy vineyard and a good vineyard take the same amount of work”) could be employed to increase volumes of his generic Riesling. As soon as he tasted the first young wines, he knew they were not destined for blending away! In virtually any other vintage, his top 2006 Auslesen would have been Beerenauslesen, Donnhoff points out, and I have to admit I wondered whether the wines that followed – even if considered virtual Trockenbeerenauslesen – could represent an ascent. “One sees the botrytis during the harvest and one senses the possibilities. But one also knows what can happen if bad weather comes. And all of the vineyards were ripening at the same time. Sweet, dry, botrytized, all were possible at the same time. In principle, I would have had to harvest everything on the same day, which is impossible, crazy. Of course, you could have pushed things to the limit and harvested T.B.A. – I know I can make one at the highest level – but my story, my love is here,” says Donnhoff, stretching his hands over the bottles of Spatlese and Auslese lined up on the table.” That represents my dream, and anything that jeopardizes it must be set aside. I’ll always forgo the extra 10% of opulence.” Hence, although at one point a start was made on berries for T.B.A., in the end, only two truly botrytis-dominated wines, both Beerenauslesen, were picked. Wine Advocate.October, 2008
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