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Karthauserhof Riesling QbA Ruwer 2015
The historic Karthauserhof estate is located just before the confluence of the Ruwer and Mosel rivers, nestled along a side valley adjacent to the small village of Eitelsbach. Recent findings indicate that the spot was a settlement practicing viticulture as early as Roman times. Named Karthauserhof, or "Farm of the Carthusians," it was founded officially as a Carthusian monastery in the 11th century.
In 1811, Napoleon secularized the region and the property was auctioned off in Paris. It was bought by Valentin Leonardy and, miraculously, through the trials and tribulations of over 200 years, has remained in the same family. The Tyrells inherited Karthauserhof in the mid-20th century with their eldest son, Christoph, running all operations in the vineyard and cellar until 2012. 2015 marked the beginning of a new period in the estate’s history, as Ludwig Breiling, the legendary winemaker behind the successful 1990s and outstanding vintages of 2000 – 2009, returned from his absence to oversee all work in the winery and vineyards. To complete his dream team, he called upon Sascha Dannhauser to take on the role of head winemaker. In addition to working alongside Ludwig for over 20 years, Dannhauser was a key asset to Christian Vogt during his tenure at the estate.
The single-vineyard estate makes wines exclusively from the Karthauserhofberg vineyard. They use no pesticides, instead preferring pheromones, which prevent insect pests from reproducing. The 19 hectares of vineyards are planted almost entirely to Riesling on original rootstock. While the estate produces the classic Pradikat wines, they have long been ahead of the curve and renowned for their dry Rieslings, an area of increasing popularity among Riesling lovers. In fact, the majority of their production is dry wines, including a Grosses Gewachs that was introduced with the 2009 vintage.
Following the Mosel River as it slithers and weaves dramatically through the Eifel Mountains in Germany’s far west, the Mosel wine region is considered by many as the source of the world’s finest and longest-lived Rieslings.
Mosel’s unique and unsurpassed combination of geography, geology and climate all combine together to make this true. Many of the Mosel’s best vineyard sites are on the steep south or southwest facing slopes, where vines receive up to ten times more sunlight, a very desirable condition in this cold climate region. Given how many twists and turns the Mosel River makes, it is not had to find a vineyard with this exposure. In fact, the Mosel’s breathtakingly steep slopes of rocky, slate-based soils straddle the riverbanks along its entire length. These rocky slate soils, as well as the river, retain and reflect heat back to the vineyards, a phenomenon that aids in the complete ripening of its grapes.
Riesling is by far the most important and prestigious grape of the Mosel, grown on approximately 60% of the region’s vineyard land—typically on the desirable sites that provide the best combination of sunlight, soil type and altitude. The best Mosel Rieslings—dry or sweet—express marked acidity, low alcohol, great purity and intensity with aromas and flavors of wet slate, citrus and stone fruit. With age, the wine’s color will become more golden and pleasing aromas of honey, dried apricot and sometimes petrol develop.
A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.
In the Glass
Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings more redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.
Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.
It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.