Expensive wine 104: Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese 2014

Dönnhoff Norheimer KirschheckThe Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck is a not too sweet riesling, a white wine that shows why Germany is once again a world-class region

Real German riesling – the kind with all those indecipherable words on the label, like the Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese – is known for four things. First, as a wine geek favorite; second, for amazing quality; third, as almost unknown to anyone who isn’t a wine geek; and fourth, as not easy to find.

All of which is a shame, since rieslings like the Dönnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck ($38, sample, 8%) are well worth the effort – both to learn about, to find, and to buy:

• Spatlese is one of many German term describing sweetness – it means sweet, but not a dessert wine. In this case, noticeable, but not overpowering.

Donnhoff is the producer, a 200-year-old family operation that is among the best in Germany. The importer works with the renowned Terry Theise, whose taste in German riesling is impeccable.

• Norheimer Kirschheck, in Nahe, is the vineyard. Nahe, in western Germany near the French border, is the appellation and famous for its soils.

What does this mean for the wine? It’s less traditional than many other spatleses, but still firmly within the category. There is a little honeyed sweetness, the amazing petrol aroma with a hint of mint, a slate-like minerality, and the high-quality lemon fruit that holds everything together. The best part is that the wine is still quite young, and will change appreciably as it gets older, becoming richer and more luxurious.

Highly recommended, and just the thing for Thanksgiving. Serve this chilled, but not so cold that you can’t taste all the flavors. And open it 45 minutes or so before serving.

Imported by Skurnik Wines/Terry Theise selection