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Soil: Grey, carbon-laced decomposed argillaceous slate or “Tonschiefer”Wine making: Fermentations occur is a combination of stainless & used large oakAspect: SoutheastAge of Vines: Approx. 25 – 40 yearsClassified: VDP. GROSSE LAGE
The Dönnhoff Family is proud to call Oberhausen an der Nahe home. Running from Niederhausen to Schloßböckelheim, the majestic landscapes of the Nahe Valley have held sway ove for more than 250 years. The first official mention of the Dönnhoff name dates back to 1761; the family‘s own history book details the early flowering of 1781 and the bumper grape harvest of 1784. Helmut Dönnhoff’s grandfather laid the cornerstone for the estate‘s success.
Fine and elegant with delicate peach and citrus aromas, but also unusually powerful for the humble category and this producer. Long, ripe and crisp finish. From organically grown grapes. Fair’n Green certification. Drink or hold. Screw cap.
This is the dry version of the Oberhäuser Leistenberg. The hill just to the left of the vineyard is called the Lemberg, and with the Leistenberg on the other side, these hillsides form a valley. Cold air from the Hunsrück blows through the area, passing by the Leistenberg making it impossible for botrytis to develop. Further, the exposition is southeast rather than due south like the Hermannshöhle. This means longer ripening and lower potential alc, perfect for Kabinett style wines. Tonschiefer means “clay slate”, so named for the soil that dominates the vineyard. This is the original vineyard for the family and holds a very special place.
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