Friday, January 18, 2013

The Karthäuserhof in the Mosel Valley: An Eventful History – From Grenoble in France to New York City in the US

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Christoph Tyrell in Mainz, Germany

The Karthäuserhof in the Mosel Valley is one of the most prestigious wine estates in Germany. It can look back to a long history. For the past decades, it has been run and owned by Christoph Tyrell in the 6. Generation. A couple of months ago, a press release indicated that Christoph Tyrell, who has no children and who is on his mid-60s, has arranged the succession of the Karthaeuserhof with his cousin Albert Behler. Albert Behler lives in New York City, where he is President and CEO of the Paramount Group, one of the largest privately-owned real estate companies in New York City.

I met Christoph Tyrell recently – before the announcement - at the award ceremony of Best of Riesling 2012 in Mainz, Germany. Except for one, all the pictures are from this event.

For more, see:
Judging at “best of riesling 2012” in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in Germany B
Best of Riesling 2012 - The Winners, Germany


Weingut Karthäuserhof is located in the village of Eitelsbach, a small village on the Ruwer, a tributary of the upper Mosel, near the town of Trier.

Pictures: Christoph Tyrell in Mainz, Germany

The Karthäuserhof name originates from the order of Bruno of Cologne, who founded the Chartreuse near Grenoble in the 11th century. At the beginning of the 14th century, the order founded the Karthause ad St. Albanum monastery in Trier. In 1335, the monks were given the estate in Eitelsbach. The property remained in monastic hands for nearly 5 centuries.

Following the secularization of Napoleon, it was acquired by the Frenchman Valentin Leonardy.

In 1824, his only daughter Suzanne married Johann Wilhelm Rautenstrauch. It was under the control of this couple and their descendants that the reputation of the property and its wines really grew.

Pictures: At the Award Ceremony with Somelier Nathalie Lumpp and State Secretary Thomas Griese

In 1947, Maria Rautenstrauch married Werner Tyrell, who took on the estate – an estate of international fame at that time - after the death of his father-in-law in 1951 and managed it for 30 years.

In 1986, the oldest son Christoph took over the Karthäuserhof Estate and became the 6th Generation of his family to do so.

Weingut Karthäuserhof

The Karthäuserhofberg is the sole source of fruit for Weingut Karthäuserhof. It is an amalgamation of five original vineyards - Burgberg, Kronenberg, Orthsberg, Sang and Stirn – which in the 1980s the Tyrells brought together as one. Ever since then, they have labeled their wines simply as Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberger, without reference to the individual vineyards.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Christoph Tyrell in Mainz, Germany

This super-vineyard of 19 hectares is comprised of decomposed Devon slate at a gradient of 55% and is planted with 90% Riesling. The Pinot Blanc of Valentin Leonardy have contracted to just 10%. There are also about 85 hectares of farmland and forest.

Christoph Tyrell: “We are committed to keeping an ecological balance between professional winemaking and the protection of our local species.  Our grandparents Rautenstrauch/Tyrell already planted a mixed forest on the hillside of our vineyard that has been left in its natural state and is not used commercially. We benefit from its protection against gusty winds and equally it offers a great wildlife habitat. We abstain from using any chemical fertiliser and exclusively fertilise organically with horse manure, bark mulch, compostable grains and shredded old vines that we blend into the vineyard soil.”

In the Cellar

Under the estate buildings are vaulted stone cellars where the wine is made using primarily stainless steel fermentation. Fermentation is arrested by cooling the tanks. The level of sweetness in the wines is achieved by blending together different tanks.

The Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberger Labels

Unusually, the Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberger labels are neck labels. But they are very interesting lables. At the very center is a vervet monkey, once part of the Carthusian's coat of arms, and below this a Catherine wheel and the letter C, both of which relate to Eitelsbach's patron saint, Catherine. Across the top a staff, holy cross and bishop's mitre represent Prince Balduin, Archbishop of Luxembourg.

The Future: Albert Behler

The press release said that Christoph Tyrell has handed over to his cousin and friend Albert Behler. But Christoph Tyrell “ wird auch in den kommenden Jahren seine Arbeitskraft und Leidenschaft dem Karthäuserhof zur Verfügung stellen. Zu seiner Entlastung wird Christian Vogt, seit 2008 Gutsverwalter und Kellermeister des Karthäuserhofes, mit in die Geschäftsführung eintreten.” – Christoph Tyrell will continue to work and the role of winemaker Christian Vogt has been upgraded – he will be part of the management team. The operational role Albert Behler will play has not been specified.

Albert Behler is currently President and CEO of the New York-based Paramount Group, a German-owned firm that is the largest privately owned real estate acquisition and property management company in New York City. Paramount’s portfolio is valued at $10 billion. It was established in 1968 by Werner Otto.

In 1973, Albert Behler joined Thyssen Handelsunion AG and spent a large part of his career at Thyssen. Within the group, he advanced into leading positions in the Middle East and the United States. In 1991, Albert Behler became President and CEO of the Paramount Group, Inc.

Mr. Behler studied law and economics in Germany and holds an Executive MBA degree from Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Best of Riesling 2012

Every other year, the best of riesling competition takes place in Germany, organized by the Ministry of Wine of the Land Rheinland Pfalz. This time, I was honored to be invited to participate as judge in the final tastings of the competition. I also attended the award ceremony a few months later in Mainz.

Pictues: Judge Christian G.E. Schiller and the 2011 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Tyrell‘s Edition Spätlese Mosel, trocken, Weingut Karthäuserhof, Trier-Eitelsbach

There were 5 categories in this competition. In the category I – dry - up to 12,5 % alcohol, the winner was: 2011 Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Tyrell‘s Edition Spätlese Mosel, trocken, Weingut Karthäuserhof, Trier-Eitelsbach

Address: Karthäuserhof, 54292 Eitelsbach
Telephone: +49 (0) 651 5121
Fax: +49 (0) 651 53557

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Best of Riesling 2012 - The Winners, Germany

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