Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Kabinett Riesling 2007

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Let’s start with German wine labels 101. The first word – Karthauserhof – is the producer. Karthauserhof is one of the top producers in the Mosel, located in, yep, Eitelsbach (the second word is the village). This village is located on the Ruwer river, which is a tributary of the Mosel.

This is ancient vine country. Vineyards here were originally planted about a thousand years ago by the Romans and eventually it was Carthusian monks that established the Karthauserhof estate in the 14th century. In the time of Napoleon, the vineyard was taken from the monks and sold to a private owner from Paris. The estate then passed through one of those irritating European noble families for generations, ending up today in some off-shoot branch of the Napoleonic era owner. That said, these are wines both with serious history and of tremendous quality.

The Vineyard

The Karthauserhofberg vineyard (the third word in the label is always the vineyard) is the sole source of fruit for Karthauserhof winery. It is in fact an amalgamation of 5 separate vineyards, but you will only know which vineyard fruit went into which wines if you talk to the winery itself.

Of course, as with all Mosel estates, the terroir is slate and it is this slate that gives the rieslings of the Mosel their unique combination of depth, clarity and precision, despite always hanging on the edge of ripeness.

Poetic Precision

How to describe a wine like this? You can think of precision like an engineer fixated on detail, making no mistakes. There is little to be excited about, but such work is nearly always reliable and we’re all happy to benefit from the meticulousness.

However, there is also a precision that brings to life that which would otherwise remain hidden. This is the type of clarity offered by my favourite writers from John Coetze and James Baldwin to E.M. Forster and Joseph Conrad.

This wine is more like the writer than the engineer – precise but poetic. At first you appreciate the detail and economy, but then you start to see how all the pithy focus reveals something worldly and profound. A 100 page novel you read in 4 hours but remember for the rest of your life. Only ever Riesling can do this.

This is wine with firm acidity but the fruit is all the more expressive because of this lift, and the wine melts easily into food. Enticing, clean, mineral driven, exalted fruit, and as comforting and delicious as it is vaulted and gothic.

$42 at Liberty Wine Merchants


  1. Brian
    July 29, 2011

    Love the German Rieslings. Focus idea? Looking forward to hearing about your Alsace trip. Just got back from the Mosel and the vineyards are stunning. I learned that a lot of the wines note on the label whether they were grown in red or white slate that you mention

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