TheWineRambler "A German wine label is one of the things life's too short for" - Kingsley Amis



Philipp Kuhn, Spätburgunder "Tradition", 2008

Posted by Torsten 21 Feb 2012

We have all been there. You meet someone. At a wine bar, a pub, a club. They look nice, approachable. You talk a little and it goes easy, very easy. Almost too easy - you realise: a smooth operator. Now you should be careful, but somehow it feels good. Until disappointment finds you at last. However, as you get older, more experienced, you learn to spot them before it is too late: pleasant surface, charming, very smooth - but shallow and hollow, a disappointment. You are now a grown-up, and you won't fall for that trick.

I am a grown-up, and I won't fall for that trick. Or will I?

Well, it wasn't a wine bar. Even worse, I took him straight home with me (I say "him" as "it" sounds too neutral and as in German the gender of wine is masculine). He came from the Pfalz, one of my favourite German wine regions, and was made by Philip Kuhn, a winemaker well known for his red wines (he makes great whites too). So it is not like I picked a random stranger up from the street.

So there is little old me, sitting at home, looking at a Pinot Noir of surprisingly intense colour, a darkish cherry brown. Looks really appetising. Do I really fall for intense lipstick? Anyway, not only does he look good, he also smells good. Of woodlands. There is pinewood, there are herbs - fragrant herbs with a menthol touch -, and there are wild, dark berries. There is also some vanilla, so it would be more precise to say the wine smells like woodlands smell after you have brushed your teeth with a mild herbal toothpaste and then washed your hands with lots of vanilla soap. He is very smooth yet with precise aromas.

And well, he also tastes good. Drinks very easy. Is very smooth. Velvety vanilla in the finish, but also spice and herbal flavours make him very quaffable, and while he is lean and lively (acidity) there is also some body, bitter berries, to keep your tongue busy. And did I say smooth?

Smooth, spice, vanilla, goes down easy, too easy - these are all qualities of many mass-produced, smooth operator wines who stalk their pray in bars and pubs. Wines that you may like at first but that very soon leave you with nothing but a hollow taste in your mouth and a headache. Philip Kuhn's entry level Pinot Noir shares some of their characteristics and is just a little too easy too like, with almost a little too much smooth vanilla. But damn it does drink so very well, I like it. Because there is a balanced personality, because it is not just shallow. Or maybe I have been deceived and it/he is - but I don't care, I want another glass.