At the heart of the Mosel wine region lies a family history that has been recounting six generations of craftsmanship and innovation since 1635. Eifel – a name synonymous with significant wine-growing tradition along the Mosel and excellence both in Trittenheim and beyond. The young and ambitious vintner, Christoph Eifel, is infusing new life into the family estate. He adeptly marries tradition with modernity to craft wines that embody the very essence of the region’s terroir.

Max Kaindl, 27. August 2023
Reading time about 12 minutes

Christoph Eifel:
Pioneering New Paths in Trittenheim

A Sweltering July Visit to Christoph Eifel’s Family estate

On an exceedingly hot Sunday in July, I paid a visit to Christoph Eifel at his family-owned winery in Trittenheim, situated along the Middle Mosel. The impetus for this visit stemmed, on one hand, from recommendations by fellow wine enthusiasts who consistently brought up the name Christoph Eifel whenever I inquired about newly emerging vintners to watch for in the Mosel region. On the other hand, it was due to Christoph’s persistent yet always amiable request that I come see him during my next journey to the Mosel. True to my word, I made the journey. Despite the enervating and nearly unbearable heat, I remained brimming with anticipation and curiosity.

A Candid Look at Christoph Eifel’s Winemaking Approach

We kicked off with an in-depth stroll directly into the vineyards, taking advantage of the relatively bearable morning conditions. Upon reaching the Rosengärtchen (Rose Garden) vineyard, Christoph proudly presented the strides he has made in adopting more natural approaches to vineyard work. He also mentioned, in the same breath, that he’s not yet able to completely do away with industrial spraying methods, but it is a goal he is aiming for in the future. Check, I thought. He was speaking openly without the marketing fluff that sometimes creeps into winemakers’ conversations. We talked at length about ground cover strategies and his upcoming project of moving the vine rows. This is something he plans to carry out in his oldest vineyards, and it is an incredibly demanding task. After all, it involves digging up and relocating every second row of vines.

Next, we proceeded to the Apotheke vineyard, the winery’s finest site and the most renowned within the Trittenheim area. Christoph’s pride and joy lie in his ownership of the original parcel of this vineyard, known as the “Fußwingert.” Ancient, own-rooted vines, individually trained on stakes, all on slopes that can reach up to a 70% gradient. Remarkable.

After the initial impressions, one thing became clear to me: Christoph tends to his vines with devoted care. His vineyards see intensive cultivation, low yields, rigorous grape selection, hand harvesting, and a commitment to natural cultivation (though not certified organic). These are Christoph’s guiding principles in the vineyard, devoid of rigid doctrines. In the cellar, the wines undergo spontaneous, cool, and gradual fermentation. Depending on the wine type, this takes place in either stainless steel tanks or neutral wooden casks.

Time for Tasting

We had yet to confirm if the substantial effort made in the vineyards reflected in the wine’s quality. However, we took a break from the blazing summer heat in the shade of the family-owned guesthouse “Moselkloster” to find out. Here, I had the chance to sample a range of sweet Rieslings, from Kabinett to Eiswein. Before sharing my tasting notes with you, I can already share a sneak peek: two of the wines had me melting with joy and bliss, and it wasn’t due to the scorching summer heat.

Tasting notes

Trittenheimer Apotheke Kabinett feinherb, 2021
On the nose, there is a cool, fresh aura carried by notes of stone fruit and delicate spiciness.
The palate offers a lively acidity and a polished texture, with a touch of lightness and a refreshing zing of acidity.
The finish lingers with abundant stone fruit, subtle spices, but ending with a bit too austere zitric note.

Drohner Hofberg Kabinett, 2021
The nose reveals a citric, deep, and dark character with a touch of red spiciness, finely cool, and accented by red berry notes.
On the palate, it feels like lemon dipped in salt — fresh, still taut, with an elegant texture, concentration, and vibrant acidity.
The finish captivates with a mouthwatering punch, incredibly juicy, light, yet bursting with intensity. Fantastic.

Trittenheimer Apotheke Kabinett, 2021
The nose exudes depth, dark spiciness, with hints of grapefruit and an ethereal touch, fresh and cool.
On the palate, it is a dance of fresh grapefruit and salt, taut and vibrating acidity, elegant texture, and lovely concentration.
The finish is delicate, smoothly melting, juicy, white pepper, a distinct grapefruit note, a slate-like spiciness, all in a reverent and profound manner. This is sheer enjoyment.

Goldtröpfchen Kabinett, 2021
The nose reveals depth, dark spiciness, with exotic fruit, especially mango, herbal touches, and a fresh, cool aura.
On the palate, there is a dance of salt and this characteristic exotic Goldtröpfchen fruit, with taut and vibrant acidity, an elegant texture and concentration that still manages to remain lively.
The finish is subtly exotic, juicy, with a slate-like spiciness. Feels like vacation in the glass.

Trittenheimer Apotheke Spätlese Alte Reben, 2021
The nose presents fresh pineapple, white pepper, quince, fennel, hints of smoke, and subtle red berries. On the palate, the wine shows delicate yet substantial, with a well-balanced acidity that harmonizes with the pronounced sweetness. Bright, sweet fruit carries hints of medicinal herbs and beeswax.
The finish is characterized by light mineral notes, hints of currant leaves and lime, nuanced intensity in sweetness, and a tender, melting quality.

Trittenheimer Altärchen Eiswein „Juwel“, 2021
The nose is ethereal, incredibly cool and delicate, showcasing light stone fruit, citrus, meadow herbs, and subtle spiciness — all in a discreet and harmonious manner.
The palate is profoundly deep and complex, captivating and finely balanced, with an endlessly elegant, delicate yet taut acidity structure, notes of candied fresh lemon, a fine creamy texture, remarkable coolness, and saltiness.
The finish reaches an unattainable sublimity — crystal clear, brilliant, lifted by the finest salt, spiciness, and bright fruit, radiantly. This is a wine to be revered.

Trittenheimer Apotheke Beerenauslese***, 2021
On the nose, the wine is cool and refined, with notes of yellow stone fruit, a touch of exoticism, honey and raisins, and subtle spiciness. Intense yet devoid of opulence.
The palate delves into profound depths, enthralling and finely balanced, with an infinitely elegant, delicately taut acidity structure. Notes of candied fresh mango, a fine creamy texture, and perfectly ripe exotic fruit create a captivating experience.
The finish is sublime, brilliant, intense, and embracing, carried by the finest fruit, candied nuances, spiciness, and yellow stone fruit — seemingly endless.

Discovering Excellence: Christoph Eifel’s Journey through Quality Winemaking

After the tasting, I found myself pleasantly surprised and delighted. Despite all the praise from my friends and my own high expectations, I had not anticipated this level of quality, which was, in parts, truly impressive. (Side note: I exclusively tasted sweet wines, so I cannot comment on the quality of the dry wines at this point.) The wines consistently exhibited a cool, fresh, and lively character, with a juicy-salty nature and that unique spiciness that wonderfully encapsulates the essence of the Mosel.

A glance at Christoph’s background quickly shed light on the source of his skill and lofty ambitions. After apprenticing at the VDP estate Nik Weis in Leiwen and spending another year under the guidance of Thomas Haag at Schloss Lieser, he concluded his apprenticeship years with a degree in oenology from Geisenheim. In 2016, he joined his family’s vineyard, which now spans 7 hectares. Since 2021, Christoph has been autonomously running the estate under his own name. From that point onward, he has been shaping everything according to his vision — website, labels, logo, and wine lists — all revamped. This approach is refreshingly modern while remaining firmly rooted in the region’s tradition.

In response to my inquiry about his role models in winemaking, Christoph promptly and unequivocally mentioned Julian Haart. He is impressed by the citric freshness, salty juiciness, concentration and yet lightness — the dance-like qualities — of Haart’s wines. All of these aspects are elements he also aims to express in his own wines. And with the 2021 Hofberg Kabinett, he is already making significant strides toward achieving this goal.

In a world inundated with unremarkable and one-dimensional wines, Christoph Eifel’s sweet wines stand as a testament to his profound connection with nature, craftsmanship, and his passion for Mosel wine. Christoph is an openly communicative, sincerely speaking, ambitious, and regionally-rooted young winemaker. This resonated deeply with me. I am eagerly looking forward to his forthcoming vintages and will follow his journey in Trittenheim with anticipation. Enthusiasts of Riesling, particularly those drawn to the dance-like qualities of delicate off-dry Mosel wines, should definitely include his winery in their watchlist.

Pictures: © The Art of Riesling – Maximilian Kaindl

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