"Das Leben ist zu kurz, um schlechten wein zu trinken." Goethe"Life is too short to drink bad wine", Goethe's words were written in what is now Prinz von Hessen's Hasensprung vineyard and are as good a motto as any for a winery that prides itself on its centuries old tradition of making fine Rieslings.The estate is literally one of the most aristocratic in Germany. Donatus the current Prinz von Hessen is not only a real Prince with his own HRH but is 436th in line to the British throne. In fact, he is considerably closer to the top job than the Duke of Edinburgh who doesn't make it in to the top 450.However, as he is unlikely to be needed at Buckingham Palace any time soon, Donatus rather sensibly concentrates on making wine from his ancestral vineyards. The estate has holdings in some of the best vineyards in the Rheingau with 20 of the 30ha of vines planted on Erstes Gewachs - or First Growth - sites.They are located on a wide sweep of south-facing vineyards on the Rhine between Mainz and the River's confluence with the Nahe. The vineyards are protected from the north by the Taunus hills and warmed by the sun to the south. It is the very heart of fine German wine production, with the ancient Schloss Johannisberg (where Riesling was first planted in 1720) just behind the Winkeler Jesuitgarten vineyard.The wines are drier than those typically found in the Mosel; steely and minerally with perfumed fruit and perfect balance between the high acidity and small levels of residual sugar. The warmth of the region gives weight too. These are not the feather-like wisps of the Saar but fuller and riper with a greater presence in the mouth.