Dangerously good wines from Riesling Kartell


Big cigars, black shirts with white ties, scowling faces. In a gloomy cellar in Pünderich, they’ve gathered to cultivate intoxicating substances on a grand scale. It's the infamous Riesling Kartell. Sentenced to life-long viticulture, members of the nebulous group are currently in an open prison. Together, they strive for monopolization of the wine market and nothing less than world domination.

Most people would probably rather not encounter these black-clad gentlemen in the dark. Or maybe they would?

Cartel based in Pünderich

What sounds like something out of the cult Mafia series “The Sopranos”, is actually a unique alliance of young winemakers, who are carving a name for themselves in the wine world through their innovative concept. Six young enthusiasts, most of them former “inmates” of Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences, who, following on from apprenticeships and time spent abroad, are once again harvesting on the steep slopes in and around Pünderich.

The mugshots of the cartel brothers on their homepage really are reminiscent of those found in crime thrillers. Their descriptions mention espionage activities in other businesses. And of making early contacts in the Riesling world. There is even talk of hedge trimmer attacks on innocent vines.


Germany’s coolest wine

Ansicht auf eine Flasche Kartellwein des Riesling-Kartells.

Of course, the reality is that Tobias Dahm, Johannes Busch, Nico Simonis, Dominik Busch, Matthias Lay and Markus Busch created their criminal personas as a unique selling point. They want to use their unconventional idea of a `Riesling cartel` to shake up their parents’ businesses, their village and the Mosel area.

Their first coup: a Riesling, which was promptly named `Germany’s coolest wine` by the German Wine Institute (DWI). In an online vote, wine lovers and experts pronounced the jointly produced Kartell-Cuvée from the group's six vineyards a winner. The principle behind it all: one location, one grape variety, one vintage – six winemakers.

As well as their award-winning `gateway drug`, each of the six also offers their own cartel edition. So the selection ranges from dry to sweet; every wine style is represented. And this is why many wouldn’t mind encountering these men in the dark: to taste these dangerously good wines in their low-lit vaulted cellar.

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