News, Expert Opinions and general chit chat from the world of wine

JN Wine Blog

The Wonders of German Riesling

It's our favourite time of year when we get to celebrate the wonders of German Riesling!

Riesling is one of the most revered, and unfortunately misunderstood, grape varieties in the wine world. From bone dry to lusciously sweet, simple refreshing sippers to hugely complex and aromatic, the Riesling grape produces a huge range of styles. Furthermore, some of the finest examples are coming out of Germany - gone are the days of Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch, (although these nasty associations seem hard to shift for some), Germany takes this grape variety very seriously and with the perfect climate and top-notch winemakers, there’s plenty to get excited about.

This week we are celebrating a few chosen wines from our German wineries with up to 15% off the bottle price; some of these we only receive in tiny quantities, so snap them up while on offer! 

Helmut Dönnhoff is one of the most respected winemakers in Germany, with his son Cornelius following in his footsteps. The family have been making wine in the Nahe region since 1750, I suspect they know what they’re at. And if there’s any doubt, they have an impressive haul of medals and awards won over the years for their wines (and wine-making skills), as well as a fan club of wine critics. His latest vintage offerings have just landed on our shores, including two firm favourites, which are a great introduction for those just dipping their toes in to the world of German Riesling.

Dönnhoff Riesling Dry 2015

Donnhoff Oberh Brucke Ries Spat 10 Pk6

Bottle Price: £15.65 / €21.95 Bottle Offer Price: £14.09 / €19.76

The ‘dry’ on this label does not necessarily mean it is bone-dry, just that it is drier than the most commonly-found examples of German Riesling. The grapes are grown on the steep, sloping vineyards on the banks of the river Nahe in the Rhineland. After being hand-harvested, the wine is fermented in stainless steel to preserve its zingy, citrusy aromas. Wonderfully fresh and well defined, elegant with a tingling minerality. 

"Very reserved on the nose. The palate reveals some fresh green fruit on a surprisingly rich texture. Very dry and with the faintest of smoky notions it's quite a serious trocken [dry] entry wine. 15.5 pts." (Jancis Robinson Purple Pages, 25 June 2012).

Dönnhoff Riesling 2015

Donnhoff Oberh Brucke Ries Spat 10 Pk6

Bottle Price: £15.95 / €23.50 Offer Bottle Price:  £14.36 / €21.15


This wine is what we would consider to be off-dry. It is made from Riesling grapes grown in the same vineyards of the Nahe area as the ‘dry’ version, but with a little residual sugar left, giving it touch of sweetness. This not only gives it a lower alcohol level (10%, perfect for lunchtime sipping!), but a lovely, mouth-coating texture. Again, its characteristic is layers of fresh, citrus fruits.

If a drier style is what you’re in to, then worth checking out the following two wines, great examples of fresh, zingy, mouth-watering styles. 

Leitz Blue Label Riesling 

Leitz Blue Label 2014 Pk6

Bottle Price: £13.45 / €19.50 Offer Bottle Price: £12.11 / €17.55

Much like the Dönnhoffs, the Leitz family also have wine flowing in their blood, since at least 1744. Johan is currently the family winemaker, and his Blue Label Riesling is a real JN staff favourite. It delivers fruity flavours and aromas of peach and lime with an underlying minerality on the palate. It is brimming with zip and vitality, just the sort of wine to convert any Riesling doubters.

Loosen Red Slate Riesling 

Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling 2010 Pk12

Bottle Price: £15.95 / €23.50 Offer Bottle Price: £14.36 / €21.15

Ernie Loosen (pronounced LOH-zen) may be better known for his ever-popular off-dry Dr Loosen Estate Riesling, however this wine, which takes its name from the very particular soil type in the vineyard, is a fresher, drier style with an almost saline minerality, balanced with floral, citrus blossom notes.

Beyond the dry styles, German wines can get a little confusing for uninitiated. In order to differentiate, and protect, the better quality wines, from the more every day ‘table wines’, the Germans have devised a quality category (called Prädiskatswein), with strict rules and regulations imposed upon the vineyard practises and the wines produced. Within this category there are differing labelling terms, indicating different styles. Starting from the lowest levels of sweetness and gradually increasing, there is Kabinett (considered off dry or slightly sweeter), with Spatlëse next (meaning late harvest), Auslese, Berenauslese, Eiswein (also known as Ice Wine in the rest of the world), and for those that can hack it – Trockenbeerenauslese, the sweetest. 

For those that want to try a sweeter style (without bringing on type 2 diabetes) we have chosen a few Spatlëse examples. In the right circumstances Riesling has incredible ageing capacity, with 2009 being an exceptional vintage in Germany. 

Donnhoff Riesling Felsenberg Turmchen Spatlëse 2009

Donnhoff Felsen Turmchen 09 Spatlese Pk6

Bottle Price: £31.95 / €42.50 Offer Price: £27.16 / €NA 

Helmut selects grapes from vines in a corner of the Felsenberg vineyard, so in a sense this wine is from a vineyard within a vineyard. The site is situated close by the small tower ("Turmchen" in German) which overlooks the vineyard, giving the wine its name. Helmut has identified those vines which produce wine with a pure, bracing minerality for this superb example of Nahe Riesling.

Leitz Rudesheim Roseneck Spatlëse 2009 

Leitz Rud Berg Roseneck Ries Spat 09 Pk6

Bottle Price: £33.50 / €44.50 Bottle Offer Price: £28.48 / €NA 

The Roseneck vineyard gets its name from the rose bushes that blossom there. The cool, high altitude setting results in wines with beautiful aromatics and delicate classical Spätlese flavours - with just the merest hint of those rose petals.

Silver Medal winner at 2010 Decanter World Wine Awards: Fresh apricots, blackcurrants, red apples and elderflower with a hint of wet wool.

Donnhoff Oberhauser Brucke Riesling Spatlëse 2010 

Donnhoff Oberh Brucke Ries Spat 10 Pk6

Bottle Price: £35.65 / €46.99 Offer Price: £30.30 / €NA 

Oberhauser Brucke is the smallest of Helmut Donnhoff's holdings. Helmut explains that it's not a vineyard that lends itself to dry styles, the acidity being too hard – best-suited to sweeter, mouth-filling styles. This Spatlëse displays lovely white-fleshed fruit on the palate, underscored with stony minerality.

Introvert mineral nose. Sparkling fruit in medium-dry idiom. 16 pts. (Jancis Robinson Purple Pages, 23 June 2011).

Join us in JN Wine on Saturday the 30th of August when we will have a selection of German Riesling open for tasting!

Join Us For The Launch Of Our New JN Sparkling Label!

It’s celebration time at JN Wine! We have triumphed at the prestigious International Wine Challenge Awards, winning the ‘Regional Merchant of the Year’ title for Northern Ireland at the glittering ceremony in London. The victory marks a record 24 wins for this Crossgar-based retailer at the IWC event, which is widely acknowledged as the Oscars of the global wine industry, recognising excellence, expertise and passion for wine.

Naming JN Wines 'Regional Merchant of the year', IWC judges commented on the company’s endeavours, mentioning “..stunning list complemented by some very good events. An impressive shop environment with a strong online presence. They are not standing still but moving with the times, including reinventing their members club.”

To celebrate the landmark win, we are reintroducing the hugely popular JN Sparkling, with an incredible, specially commissioned piece of art by local artist Kathryn Callaghan, the “Firework Flower” on the label.

The sparkling is made exclusively for James Nicholson by Bouvet-Ladubay, the second oldest producer of sparkling wine in Saumur. A high proportion of Chenin Blanc lends this sparkler a lovely richness and lots of ripe apple and white floral flavours with a hint of honey. You have the chance to sample it for yourself at a tasting event in the Crossgar store on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd July.

From Wednesday the 20th of July to Tuesday the 26th buy 5 bottles of JN Sparkling and recieve a 6th bottle free!

JN Sparkling                          JN Sparkling Rose


JN Sparkling Tasting

Where: JN Wine, Crossgar

When: Friday 22nd of July & Saturday 23rd of July

Joining us for the launch of our new sparkling label, will be Kathryn Callaghan, the artist behind our firework flower. Kathryn will be at the store to meet tasters between 12 and 1pm on Saturday 23rd, and will be displaying some pieces from her brand new dancers collection. The artwork will be in store on Friday and Saturday.

Discover the wines of the Ribera del Duero

If you fancy venturing into the Ribera Duero region of Spain we have two world-class producers to get you started. Like Rioja, Tempranillo is the grape of choice but the wines are generally bigger in character and flavour! 

Pesquera Crianza 2012

Pesquera Crianza 2012

Bottle Price: £19.50 / €25.99 Offer Price £16.60 / €22.95

Throughout his lifetime winemaker Alejandro Fernández (affectionately known in the wine world as The King of Tempranillo) has brought this region to the forefront of wine excellence. 

Alejandro Fernandez has become one of the superstars of Spain. His wine is made from the Tempranillo grape and is aged 2-21/2 years in casks, which produces remarkable depth and richness, and a texture not unlike top notch Pomerol. The rich fruit combined with the sweet oaky smells has resulted in some opulent and voluptuous wines that are real head turners.Robert Parker, The Wine Buyer’s Guide

Carmelo Rodero 9 Months 2014

Carmelo Rodero 9 Months 2014

Bottle Price: £14.95 / €21.00 Offer Price: £13.00 / €17.85 

Carmelo and his daughter Beatriz take care of the winemaking in this estate. Their collection of wines have intense concentration and finesse, this bottle is no exception. It has warmth and is rich and rounded. Extremely satisfying.

Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2013

Carmelo Rodero Crianza 2013 Pk6

Bottle Price: £19.95 / €29.00 Offer Price: £17.45 / €24.65

This is a serious glass of red. The Tempranillo is blended with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon here, resulting in a meaty, full bodied wine. 

A selection of these wines will be open for tasting in JN Wine on Saturday the 9th of June from 12 -5pm. 

A fine, future cellar of wine

Bordeaux 2015: a fine, future cellar of wine for under £800

Take your first steps into the world of fine wine without breaking the bank! I have selected 4 cases from across the length and breadth of Bordeaux which will offer great drinking from when they arrive here in 2018 right through to 2035.

For £110 (with VAT and duty payable when they arrive) you can buy 12 bts of the excellent Chateau La Prade 2015 or why not buy the complete selection for £797 (VAT and duty payable on arrival).

La Prade 2015, Bordeaux Cotes de Francs  

La Prade 2015

Case Price £110 / €137

JB16 /JS 92-93 points / WS 89 – 92 points

Another consistently good effort from the Thienpont stable. 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc. Vanilla, strawberry and roast coffee on the nose. Full bodied with ripe succulent fruit. Fresh, with marked acidity and firm tannins carrying the wine to a long finish. Drink 2020-25

Right Bank (Merlot dominant)

Chateau Puygueraud, Bordeaux Cotes de Francs

Puygueraud 2015

£112 / 139€

JB17 / James Suckling 94 points / WS 90 – 92 points / Decanter 90 points

Nicolas Thienpont’s Chateau Puygueraud consistently offers some of the best quality/prix in Bordeaux and this vintage is no exception. 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Malbec. Black fruit and violets on the nose. Creamy, spicy palate. Could almost drink this now! Ripe and attractive, yet not overextracted. Drink 2018-25.

Left Bank (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant)

Echo de Lynch Bages, 2nd wine of Chateau Lynch Bages

£280 / 350€

TA91, JT 16.5, JS 90 / 91

60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40% Merlot

“Lynch Bages’ second wine, which accounted for 35% of total production, saw no new oak in 2015. It’s quite a forward wine, with red and black fruits, nice texture and supple tannins. A claret that will provide plenty of pleasure in its youth. Drink: 2019-24” 

Chateau Phelan Segur, St Estephe

£295 / 370€

NM91/93, JS 93/94

53% Cabernet Sauvignon / 47% Merlot

Fresh raspberry and spice on the nose. Quite understated yet with good St Estephe typicity. Medium bodied, well balanced with a light, bright finish. Drink 2020 – 35.

For more information on starting a cellar plan contact Jane Boyce MW at




Broaden Your Wine Horizons

The North-West of Spain is home to a new wave of red and white wines.

Dominio de Tares Baltos 2013, Bierzo

Bottle Price: £11.50 / €17.35 Offer Bottle Price: £9.77 / €14.75 

Baltos is made from the Mencía grape. The vines here are very old which gives the wine a wonderful depth. Smooth juicy red fruits are bursting out of the glass. Your friends and family will love you forever for giving them a glass of this!

Dominio de Tares Godello 2014, Bierzo

Dominio De Tares Godello 2013 Pk6

Bottle Price: £17.95 / €23.99 Offer Bottle Price: £15.70 / €18.36 

Godello is an ancient Spanish grape variety. This is a wine to try if you want to broaden your wine drinking horizons and expose your taste buds to new sensations. This is a textural white wine that exudes elegance - and the Galician climate gives it a refreshing edge! On a par with a well made Burgundy.

Both of these wines will be open for tasting in JN Wine on Saturday the 2nd of July.