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I cannot think of a region in Germany that is so small yet has the highest concentration of brilliant producers so close to each other. Especially for a region that 25-35 years ago was a blip on the German wine map and was dominated by a giant co-operative. Back 25-35 years ago is was Mosel and Rheingau and that ruled the roost in Germany and most of the export maket. The Nahe sure did a brilliant job of sneaking in there and now is just behind the Mosel in number of quality producers. Why does the Nahe have such a high concentration of great producers. It starts with two things, terroir and dedicated winemaking and vineyard work. A quick mention needs to be said about the complex geological layout of the vineyards. In many of the vineyards such as Brucke and Felseneck there can be as many as four different soil types and needles to say this is reflected in the complexity of the wines. Have a Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Spatlese at ten years old and tell me the soil has nothing to do with the wine. If so I have a bridge in Brooklyn that needs to be sold. 

The flavor profile of the Nahe is varied from red fruits to stone fruits and lots of obvious complex minerality. It is not hilly or as steep as the Mosel but there are still some serious angles and steep vineyards but not as dramatic as Mosel. I got winded walking from the bottom to the top of Felseneck. Some producers are leaning towards organic winemaking but it is difficult in Germany as sulfur is a major component of the winemaking process which is mostly against organic principles but that is where I give Germany the exception as there is sugar in the wines and sulfur is neccesary to halt fermentation. And of course sulfur is a by-product of fermentation so even in wines without sulfites added there are are low levels of sulfur even in wine that has no sulfites.

You can drink these wines from release and up to 15-20 years of age on them but I find the best Spatlese and Auslese stun at between 10 and 16 years of age. If you age them longer you might be taking a small risk as the fruit could eventually die and all you have is tertiary flavors, which some people may love, but I do like fruit in my Riesling. The greatest recent vintages are 2007, 2006 (atypical but great), 2005, 2002, 2001 and 1998.

Nahe wines used to not cost much and most were consumed locally until the late 80's and early 90's when they got more recognition due to the excellent producers like Donnhoff, Schonleber and Diel. Now Nahe wines do cost a but of money and can be some of the most expensive in Germany, but, compared to a Montrachet or ultra-rare high-end White Hermitage they are stunning values from some of the most profound vineyard sites in the world. Estate wines will cost you between $20-$25 as with Kabinetts from second and third tier producers but Spatlesen and Auslesen can get very expensive, between $40-$90 for the top guys. And of course GoldKap Auslese and Spatlese plus BA and TBA will cost you a small fortune. 

Notable Recent Vintages: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1993, 1990

Top producers of Nahe (in no particular order) include:
  • Schafer-Frohlich
  • Donnhoff
  • Jakob Schneider (2007 was a breakout year here!)
  • Schlossgut Diel
  • Kruger-Rumpf (very good but not top class)
  • Dr. Crusius
  • Mathern
  • Emrich-Schonleber
  • Tesch
  • Hexamer 
  • Gut Hermmansberg
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