This was a tough tasting. All the wines were served blind, in pairs of wines from the same producer, and revealed only at the end of the evening. Which tends to place me in a position where trying to identify the wine is more important than understanding and enjoying it. Add to that the fact that these wines were just starting to come out of their slumber and you have more of a finals exam for the palate than a tasting.
Donnhoff, Nahe, Norheimer Dellchen (300 NIS)
The nose offers only apples at first before erupting into a very lovely minerality. The palate is dry, crisp and laced with minerals and today I prefer it to the Hermannshohle.
Donhoff, Nahe, Niederhauser Hermannshohle (300 NIS)
The nose is arguably more forward and ripe with hints of yeast on the fringes. The palate is riper and one dimensional. Having tasted previous vintages at a somewhat older age, I'm shocked at how closed this is and how great a difference a few months can make.
Schaefer-Frohlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felseneck (300 NIS)
Apple pie with a touch of minerals. Very elegant and focused, with no single component overwhelming its glass-mates.
Schaefer-Frohlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felsenberg (300 NIS)
Very extroverted minerality on the nose, which is a very pretty one, if less complex than the one that the Felseneck presents, that later develops a somewhat funky overlay. At the end of the day, this is one of my favorites as it presents depth and complexity and not only sheer power.
Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Halenberg (330 NIS)
Another favorite and one of the most enjoyable today, as its intensity allows it to burst the cocoon of its youthful austerity. This has apple pie and sweetness tempered by a lovely, saline finish.
Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Fruhlingsplatzchen (310 NIS)
These two are eerily similar, although this winds up losing to the Halenberg (rightfully one of my favorite vineyards) by a long shot, even though it is fruiter and even more approachable.
Witmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Kirchspiel (300 NIS)
Witmann, Rheinhessen, Morstein (340 NIS)
I found this somewhat one-dimensional pair to be the weakest in the tasting - I guess someone had to be. The Kirchspiel starts out round and fruity and develops almost overwhelming minerality that outstages the fruit. The Morstein goes the other way, starting austere and mineral-laden, the fruit only coming out later. They both feel less invigorating than the other wines tasted but the Morstein seems to have the better balance and potential.
Keller, Rheinhessen, Dalsheimer Hubacker (350 NIS)
Keller, Rheinhessen, Westhofener Kirchspiel (330 NIS)
These two also seem to have more similarities with each other than differences, the Hubacker being rounder, though, the Kirchspiel longer and sharper. Both are so hard to grok that I guess this is the one question on the finals that I really bombed out on.