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1997 Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlese


DonRocks
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It's been a couple of years since I've had this, the wine that made me fall in love with Donnhoff. I remember very well when the 97s were still in stores - Matthew Tucker (then manager of Arrowine) sold me a mixed case, and assured me I'd enjoy this - it was about $17 at the time, and Terry Theise, to me, was only "some guy who wrote an entertaining wine catalog."

About one-third of the way into that bottle, I had my epiphany. The wine apparently reached some critical level of oxidation (or perhaps temperature), and within a period of about fifteen seconds, thickened in the glass. Texturally, it thickened, but it also became profound on the finish, with an intense, almost salty lime blossom that I've come to associate with Donnhoff, in particular from the great Niederhauser Hermannshohle vineyard.

Removing the cork from tonight's bottle was a tussle, but I was gleeful that it was so tight, because many Donnhoffs I've had from the late 90s / early 00s have been plagued by bad corks - a dirty little secret to be sure. But this wine is as pristine as it gets in the Washington, DC area, which isn't saying much given the haphazard treatment the majority of all wines purchased at retail used to suffer, and often still do.

This wine could have been enjoyed years ago, is stunning right now, and will last another thirty years if well-stored. I could have this on my death bed. Having said that, I wonder how many people actually wouldn't:

God: "You're dying in 47 years. I can guarantee you a 97 Donnhoff, or you can take whatever fate brings you."

Person: "Uh, let's see ... if I go in a car crash, can I phone you up last-minute?"

God: "This is a one-time offer."

Person: "Soooo ... unless I have a heart attack while attending a Petrus vertical, I'm doing pretty well locking in the Donnhoff, right?"

God: "I think so."

Person: "Deal!"

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Removing the cork from tonight's bottle was a tussle, but I was gleeful that it was so tight, because many Donnhoffs I've had from the late 90s / early 00s have been plagued by bad corks - a dirty little secret to be sure. But this wine is as pristine as it gets in the Washington, DC area, which isn't saying much given the haphazard treatment the majority of all wines purchased at retail used to suffer, and often still do.

Dirty is right. Leaky corks were widely evident among the various Donnhoffs I ran across in one shop in Colorado. Knowing little about such things myself, I was grateful to have jparrott clue me in over the phone about simply checking if each bottle's capsule has become glued stuck by seepage, a noninvasive field test that has since come in handy while shopping bottles.

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Dirty is right. Leaky corks were widely evident among the various Donnhoffs I ran across in one shop in Colorado. Knowing little about such things myself, I was grateful to have jparrott clue me in over the phone about simply checking if each bottle's capsule has become glued stuck by seepage, a noninvasive field test that has since come in handy while shopping bottles.

Though this is not a perfect method, either. Many German bottlers routinely overfill bottles, and wine may spill out during corking. And a wine can get grilled without seeping. That said, it is an additional piece of evidence as to whether or not you've got a wine or a grillade in your hand.

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