Karthäuserhof Tasting (May 3, 2007)

The proceeds from this tasting, organized by Eldad levi, were donated to Fat Meir's Kitchen, a free food kitchen for school children. You can read about it here (hebrew). You can also read about the tasting somewhere on the Fat Guy forum (hebrew), when Eldad Levi posts his own article. All the Karthäuserhof wines at the tasting were Riesling and all trocken except for the eiswein. None of the Karthäuserhof wines are available in Israel and the bottles were donated by the Coster family from their private collection. The facilities, stemware etc as well as a bottle of Dr. Loosen were courtesy of WineRoute and in addition, Giaconda donated two bottles.

I didn't know much about this Ruwer winery before the tasting except that Gault-Millau rates their sweet wines higher than their dry wines. To judge by their eiswein, I'd tend to agree, despite the small sample we tasted.

The tasting started with a couple of local 'jokers'. The Vitkin, Riesling, 2005 performed better when I tasted it last month. It might be a matter of it needing more time to open, as was the case last time. The Carmel, Johannisburg Riesling, 2006 is a nice wine, nothing more, leaning towards the tropical side of the scale, but showed better than the Vitkin.

The Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Kabinett, 2004 was better. Interesting spices on the nose, with residual gas that at first obscured the green apples and minerals that only showed up once it had fizzed away. Nice but not very exciting. The Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Kabinett, 2005 was very similar, just better. The nose was more focused and the palate more balanced. This is a very good value wine (for the price in Germany anyway). The Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, QBA, 2005 was a step back in quality, but it was only a QBA anyway, so no expectations were shattered.

Climbing back up the pradikat ladder, the Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Spatlese, 2005 proved to be more elegant and longer. More subtle, too. It lacks some concentration and the finish felt flat and tart. Surprisingly, because it's such a controversial vintage, the Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Spatlese, 2003 was better, with the first notes of petrol of the evening, complemented by nuanced mineral notes. The big difference is the palate, which was the first to show complexity and interest.

The first wine to really join the major leagues was the Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Auslese, 2001, which was similar to the Spatlese 2003, only much more interesting overall. Petrol on the nose again, only more refined, with a more interesting mix of spices and herbs than the previous wines, somewhat mentholy. Minerals on both nose and palate. It's like someone took the Spatlese 2003 and decided the best way to make it better was not to add a lot but to take what was already there, fine tune the balance and stir it up.

For all the praises heaped upon 2005, the Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Auslese, 2005 disappointed. Maybe it was just too young to show any complexity but it also felt tarter, lacking in fruit. Relatively speaking, that is. It's probably as good as that year's Spatlese but you'd expect more from an Auslese, hence the disappointment. Maybe the Karthäuserhof house style needs more bottle time to show its best, I honestly have no idea.

Next, two bottles donated to the event by Giaconda, Heymann-Lowenstein's Schieferterrassen and Erste Lage Kirchberg, both 2004. Since I just wrote about the Heymann-Lowenstein tasting this week, I won't post notes for these two wines again, but will note that the Schieferterrassen had been better on Monday and that the difference in style between Karthäuserhof and Heymann-Lowenstein's was a bit too jarring and, without enough food to cleanse the palate, it wasn't easy to fully appreciate them.

Finally, the wine of the night, Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg, Eiswein #36, 1995. The #36 denotes the batch number, apparently Karthäuserhof have quite a few bottlings. The nose was interesting, candied fruit or creme brulee - anything of that category of 'sweet' will do as a descriptor - totally enveloped by kerosene. But then you drink it and shazam! Sweet as you'd expect from an icewine on the attack then incredible acidity and infinite length. Your mouth has just had sex with the hot older girl from summer camp you've been thinking about ever since 7th grade.

Epilogue: the Dr. Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Auslese 1993 served right afterwards (and donated by WineRoute) couldn't have followed the eiswein even at its peak and I'm not sure it wasn't past it.