Downtown Durham's neighborhood bottle shop and wine bar offering curbside pickup, local delivery, and shipping to 43 states.
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Soil: Grey, carbon-laced decomposed argillaceous slateSlope: 30 – 60 %Aspect: SoutheastWine-making: Fermented and matured in stainless steel vats and large oak barrels.Age of Vines: Approx. 25 – 40 yearsClassified: VDP. GROSSE LAGE
The Leistenberg vineyard lies in a small side valley of the Nahe just outside Oberhausen. The name is a double play on words. “Leisten ” means “achieve ” in German, and the Leistenberg perpetually lives up to its name. “Lei ” is also a regional word for slate, and these warm, decomposed clay slate soils and steep terraced hillsides provide ideal conditions for Riesling to thrive. Th e southeast-facing slope basks in the morning sun, which dries out any excess moisture and promotes healthy fruit. Th e afternoon sun is less powerful, nurturing a long ripening period and moderate alcohol levels. An ideal vineyard for Kabinett wines of high minerality and sophisticated elegance.
Traditional, precise Kabinett with delicate slate aromatics. Nuanced finesse and spicy acidity
Oberhaüser Leistenberg (weathered and decomposed grey slate) is a steep, southeast facing Grand Cru vineyard in a side valley of the Nahe. The direction of exposure allows the morning sun to dry out moisture in the vineyard while the afternoon sun is less intense than the full south exposed vineyards. This provides a long ripening period and slows the development of botrytis. The vineyard name has two meanings: “Leisten” means “achieve” in German while “Lei or Lay” is an old German word for slate, the dominating soil type.
Leistenberg is the basis for two excellent wines each year: Tonschiefer Trocken, a dry Kabinett quality wine, and Leistenberg Kabinett, the off-dry single site wine.
In addition to the main component of Leistenberg, Tonschiefer is partially made from declassified GG fruit. It’s more complex than the Estate Riesling Trocken though it’s not more textured or richer. It has a very pretty, floral quality which adds another layer of complexity. Leistenberg Kabinett has a salty, ripe citrus flavor which makes it a pleasure in its youth, but also benefits from long aging.
The Dönnhoff family first came to the Nahe region 250 years ago, establishing a traditional farm in the village of Oberhäusen an der Nahe, which included livestock and vegetable gardens in addition to some grape growing. Oberhäusen and this part of the Nahe river valley is very pastoral; it feels far away from the relative hustle and bustle of the Rheingau and wine tourism. This is not Napa Valley. The countryside is serene and beautiful, marked by steep hillside vineyards in the succession of villages following the river from Norheim to Niederhausen, through Oberhäusen, ending in Schlössbockelheim.
The estate was started by Helmut Dönnhoff’s grandfather, Hermann, in the 1920s. Helmut took over from his father, Hermann Jr. in 1966; at that time there were only 4 hectares under vine and still quite a bit of farmland, which was rented out. In 1971 the farmland was sold and Helmut turned his full attention to producing quality wine. He worked the vines in Oberhäusen, expanding slowly and naturally. His successes followed hard work, commitment, and the understanding that “the vineyards speak for themselves – you just have to hear them.” Helmut, who has spent years honing his skills, finding the right sites, and developing a personal philosophy for winemaking, says, “I express myself clearly and so do my wines.”
Helmut is a very instinctive winemaker with a natural touch that he’s clearly passed on to his son Cornelius, who joined him at the winery 2007. The Dönnhoffs believe in craft and workmanship with the understanding that “winemaking alone cannot bring quality; it can only retain the available quality.” In the 40+ years that have passed since Helmut began his work some things have changed and shifted, but the commitment to excellence and transparency above all has remained constant from one generation to the next. “It has been a long road,” remarks Helmut, looking back at 44 vintages and a period when his wines were not always as internationally recognized and lauded as they are now.
The Estate has grown to 25 hectares but both father and son feel that this is as large as they want to be; more growth would mean less time in the vineyards and cellar, where they feel most at home and in their element. Cornelius is as thoughtful as his father and the two share the same view on winemaking, viticulture, and taste in wine; balance and “Das ganze ding muss klingen – The whole thing must be sound” are at the center of their philosophy. With the addition of Norheimer Kirscheck and Dellchen in the mid-1990s and Roxheimer Höllenpfad in 2010, the estate is comprised of nine different single vineyard sites, all classified as Grand Cru. The fact that Dönnhoff selects only three sites to produce Grosse Gewächse-style wines is natural when discussing wine with the family. “We have to think of what we can do for the vineyard – each one has a special talent,” says Cornelius.
Grapes are handpicked at the height of ripeness rather than by sugar levels, and each site is fermented individually with native yeasts. The winery was designed to have total capacity in either oak or steel, allowing Dönnhoff to vinify and age wines according to what they feel the wines need, not what they have room for. The oak here is Stückfass (1000 Liter), made from an incredible cooper in Bad Kreuznach called Hösch, not well known outside of Germany. The wood for Dönnhoff’s casks comes from the Lemberg forest, directly across from the Leistenberg vineyard. The staves are twice as thick as the average 1000L cask and are seasoned outside for 7 years at the minimum, often for 12 years, which results in a very neutral barrel. Regardless, Riesling never goes in a new cask here – the first three passes are used for Weiss and Grauburgunder. If a wine has had enough oxygen in oak it will go into barrel and vice versa. Many tasters assume that all of Dönnhoff’s wines are 100% in steel as there is never perceptible oak flavor. Decisions for elevage are made by taste and taste alone – analytics are ignored. “I make wines for myself, not for the market,”says Helmut. The estate recently became part of Fair’n’Green, a new sustainable certification that is supported by both the German Government and the Frauhofer Institute, one Europe’s top research organizations. This certificate doesn’t involve money from any of the wine growers involved; it is not a marketing tool, but a way for growers to share information and improve wines and vineyards for the future generations.
LouElla is Downtown Durham's neighborhood bottle shop, bar, and event space offering curated wine, craft beer, and fortified selections from family operated producers. The business takes its name and mission from owner and proprietor Campbell Davis's Great Aunt LouElla who was much beloved for her warmth, hospitality, and generous spirit. Whether we are serving you at the bar or helping you pick that perfect bottle to host your celebration, our mission is to share LouElla's hospitality with the community.
Owner & Manager
For Cam Davis, LouElla is the culmination of more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality and beverage industry. Cam has successfully managed some of Durham’s finest locally and nationally recognized establishments, including Hutchin's Garage, Guglhupf, Rue Cler, and Durham Catering Company. He brings a wealth of wine and beverage knowledge, not only from his extensive restaurant experience, but also from his tenure as Durham Sales Manager for wine distributor Bordeaux, Fine and Rare.
316 West Geer St, Suite A, Durham, NC 27701
Tue. - Thu. 11am - 9pm
Fri. & Sat. 11am - 10pm
Sun. 11am - 8pm