Weingut Karthäuserhof Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Großes Gewächs 2013
Winegrower: Sascha Dannhäuser
Region: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
Shipping: August 2018
Intense, electrifying and precise, with an incredible balance that teeters on the edge of complexity and ripe fruit. I first tasted an earlier vintage of this wine a few years back in San Francisco and have been captivated by it ever since. I can say without reservation that this is one of the finest, most memorable and stunning wines I’ve encountered over the past 40 years. And it’s from Karthäuserhof, one of the oldest and most storied, iconic winegrowers in Germany. It is also a product of one of the few monopole vineyards in the Mosel, one that dates back to the 1300s. If you are not convinced of the greatness of Riesling, this wine is sure to make you a convert.
Previously labeled an Auslese trocken, now under VDP rules it is technically a Großes Gewächs (“Great Growth”) dry Riesling made with the best fruit at optimal ripeness from the best vineyard sites. It is a work of art, an intense, vibrant wine of crystalline purity and mind-blowing minerality, still wrapped in its youthful textures that seem to come in dense waves of fruit and mouth-watering acidity. It is a wonder to drink now but will unfold into something truly spectacular with just a few years in the cellar. This wine is a typical Karthäuserhof: a singular expression of place and time, and if properly cared for, it can be enjoyed for decades to come. This is not a wine of fashion or fad but of incredible substance. Its price reflects this. We are able to offer this wine for $65. It is not available elsewhere in Canada and in the United States it sells for the same price, in US dollars. All things considered today’s offer is a remarkable value that you should not miss.
The legendary Karthäuserhof estate produces some of Germany’s finest Rieslings and is the eighth oldest winegrower in the world. The Romans were the first to grow wines here. Officially founded as a monastery in 1335, this “Farm of the Carthusians” was given to the monks of the Carthusian order by Prince-Elector Balduin of Luxembourg. It remained in monastic hands for nearly five centuries. In 1811, following the secularization by Napolean, the estate was auctioned off to Valentin Leonardy; his descendants own Karthäuserhof to this day. In 2013 Christoph Tyrell, who has no children and had managed the estate for over 30 years, passed ownership to his cousin Albert Behler, the 7th generation to own the estate. This is serious history making serious wine. Karthäuserhof produces profound wines. We are proud to say that this is the second wine we have offered from them this year.
Karthäuserhof is located near the confluence of the Ruwer and Mosel Rivers, nestled along a side valley adjacent the small village of Eitelsbach just east of Germany’s oldest city Trier. The estate makes wines exclusively from the Karthäuserhofberg vineyard, which they own in its entirety. This vineyard faces southeast and southwest, which gives it perfect sun exposure; given Germany’s northern latitude, every moment of sunshine counts. This monopole is rare in German viticulture; estates normally have various plots in different vineyards that have multiple owners, similar to Burgundy. The Karthäuserhofberg is an amalgamation of five vineyards – Burgberg, Kronenberg, Orthsberg, Sang and Stirn – that were combined into one in the 1980s. Since then, they have labeled their wines simply as Karthäuserhofberg. The vineyard’s 19 hectares sits on a steep slope in a protected side valley of the Ruwer where it meets the Mosel. It’s almost exclusively planted with Riesling vines with their original rootstalks. No pesticides are used and only organic fertilizers are applied. The rose-red clay and slate soils impart a marked mineral character to the wines and act in tandem: the clay retains the necessary water and the slate retains the heat. All harvesting is done by hand with successive pickings for the estate's different Riesling classifications. The wines are aged in stainless steel.
Since 2009 the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) has classified the Karthäuserhofberg as a VDP GROSSE LAGE (similar to Grand Cru status in Burgundy) making it one of Germany’s finest vineyards. This classification is reserved for sites capable of producing Germany’s greatest wines, marked by complex flavours, an unmistakable sense of place and exceptional aging potential.
Vintage 2013 was about endless challenge and drama in the Mosel. However, some excellent wines were produced by the best estates but only in minute quantities. After a long and cold winter budbreak came very late in early May. May was also cool which slowed development of the vines. Flowering didn’t begin until mid June when warm weather arrived. More rain, cold and to add insult to injury, hail, arrived mid-month which resulted in many unfertilized and smaller grapes. July became suddenly very warm and dry and the vines flourished beautifully. August and September were good but then the rains arrived yet again in October and lasted until mid-month. It was not until mid-October, when the sun made its re-appearance, that the grapes produced the harmonious sugar to acid ratio necessary to make excellent, balanced wines. Overall yields were down 50% to 75% but the very top growers – Karthäuserhof included – worked tirelessly in their vineyards to produce the best grapes possible. They then showed great patience when they decided to delay their harvest as late as possible. This was their saving grace and allowed them to produce brilliant Auslese wines. They are expressive, elegant and show beautiful balance between fruit, mineral tones and acidity.
In the glass this Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Großes Gewächs 2013 is a bright yellow-gold moving to pale green on the rim. Captivating on the nose, its incredibly fresh with a beautiful, rich bouquet of spicy floral notes, grapefruit, kiwi and an intense wave of crushed seashell minerality that leaps from the glass. On the palate, it is racy, full bodied, dry and complex with supple textures and flavours of apricot, white peach and citrus. This is a superb, elegant wine that is perfectly balanced and possesses incredible finesse, intense focus and an exceptionally long, palate-coating, laser-like finish of clinging minerality and notes of Meyer Lemon. This wine is best served in white stems at 8˚. And what to pair it with? Indian or Thai curries are certainly no-brainers, but if you want something more traditional try duck confit, earthy venison medallions, salmon with herb sauce, or this roasted wild boar preparation. So many possibilities, so little time!