27th Feb 2010
187, The Wine Advocate
"It's a Kabinett and Spatlese vintage, and there don't have to be Auslesen, besides which the world has enough Auslesen right now from recent years in which what used to be special has become routine," says Donnhoff by way of introducing the 2008 Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Eiswein A.P. #21. "But we left just a few bunches hanging in the Brucke, he continues, because they were in such stable health. It got to be December and I though oh dear! I'd promised the family I would not spoil the holidays." Finally, on the 30th of December, conditions were perfect for Eiswein. Scents of radish, lemon zest, and apricot preserves along with an ominously smoky prickle in the nose usher in a palate of Eszencia-like viscosity, apricot nectar concentration, delicacy (at only 7% alcohol) and complete absence of superficial sweetness. This finishes with piercing intensity and dazzling complexity, adding black tea; sea salt; ginger; seedy, tart red raspberry; and honey to the apricot jam and lemon. it's like a razor-sharp saber slathered in oily, ambrosial jelly and suspended in mid air. Few if any Eiswein of the vintage approach this for intricacy, refinement, or classic Eiswein character. I expect whatever portion of its 300 liters that is not drunk sooner to astound for at least two and perhaps three decades. It was back to the roots this year, announced a beaming Helmut Donnhoff when I arrived to taste his 2008s. He harvested in the last week of October and first half of November during which time he characterized the weather as cool and stable. I can guarantee you, he added, that we didn't for a single day have muddy boots.