Gut Hermannsberg (Niederhausen)

“Legend” is a much, possibly over-used word in the wine world, but sometimes no other word will do. The former Prussian State Domain, the vines it overlooks – the Schlossbockelheimer Kupfergrube – and its monopole vineyard, the Niederhauser Hermannsberg, are the stuff of legend.
The Domain was started in 1902 using convict labour and plenty of earth-moving, rock-shaping dynamite by Forester Hoepp who persuaded the reluctant Prussian State to build a new wine domain in the Nahe. The region’s vital fruit and oak sales had collapsed and Hoepp, who was a strong supporter of “Naturwein” (the new concept of wine as a natural product), believed that winemaking should be encouraged. He proposed that the new domain should be operated as a “model vineyard”; improving the quality of winemaking in the area and raising the reputation of German wine generally. He was convinced that the location and geology were perfect for vines. Subsequent decades proved him to be correct.
After a long golden era peaking in the 1960s and 70s, the estate’s fortunes and reputation slipped in the 1980s and 90s – without good reason perhaps. If you can pick-up some of the still delicious 1989 Spatlese or Auslese (and they are still around), snap them up. (22.05.15 – found some. Sorry, all gone!)
The estate was bought in 1998 by the Maurer family, who had made their fortune selling potatoes to German supermarkets. The talented Christian Vogt was brought in to make the wine. We visited and bought a few times in the mid 2000s. The estate was on the up again but Erich and Tilly Maurer decided to retire and sold in 2009. Their daughter Gudrun continues to work at the estate. Christian Vogt moved to Karthauserhof in the Ruwer.
The new owners, Dr Christine Dinse and Jens Reidel, a wealthy wine-loving couple from Hamburg with a background in banking, have invested generously in every area of the estate. They have an excellent young winemaker plucked from the Pfalz, called Karsten Peter. Dr Christine has written a very thorough and readable history of the Domain and the striking new label is a reworking of the original design from the early 1900s.
How are the wines? Striking. Bold. Full-throttle. Exploding with deep, layered minerals and surging with freshness. Brilliant.