Peter Jakob Kühn, Oestricher Doosberg, Riesling trocken, drei Trauben, 2007
It is moments like this when I feel a little embarrassed to write about a wine. I often wish we had more wines to complain about so that we can prove that we are wine bloggers of the really critical sort. However, this is a blog about the wines we drink for pleasure, not for profit, so we try as hard as possible to find wines that we think we might like. When I bought this Riesling from the Rheingau, I hoped it would be good, really good. I had no idea it would be so good that even after going to bed I could still be heard mumbling 'this is fantastic'. Before you read on be warned though: you may seriously hate this wine.
There is much that could be said about the Peter Jakob Kühn winery, I am sure. I could give you a history lesson about a winery that has been in the same family for eleven generations. Or I could explain that 'drei Trauben' means 'three grapes' and stands for the highest quality of Kühn wine (0 grapes, 1 grape, 2 and finally 3) - a lovely system that is both elegant and simple. Or I could write a lot about the Rheingau, where almost 80% of the wine grown is Riesling. Or we could get into a debate on screw caps - Kühn use those since 2005. Or let's have a fight about biodynamic winemaking - as the Kühn winery does that too. I will leave all of that aside as the wine I am writing about has impressed me so much that everything else seems to be nonsensical drivel.
Instead let me sing a song of praise for a wine that has such an amazing golden honey colour that you may think you are looking at a sweet wine of more than twice the age of this beauty here. Let me write about a bouquet that is a challenge for even a seasoned Riesling drinker. Let me write of a nose that starts with a smell of soil, of a certain mustiness, of vegetable aromas that border on a vegetable stew. This in itself was impressive, but it receded gracefully after half an hour, to reveal a great mineral, earthy petrol nose enhanced by liquid manure (that again went away after a while) and herbs, for instance cumin and menthol, and black tea. It was real earthy, but it also brought out fruit such as a hint of pineapple. Just smelling this wine was an intellectual experience - a sensation that some people will hate, no doubt, as it is challenging, not pleasing, but my god was it good.
And the experience continued on the tongue. It was fun, it was unusual, it changed over time, it was not easy, it kept challenging me. There was smoke at first and it was bitter, but even after the first sip it was clear that the wine in my glass was very, very well rounded, with fantastic balance. It has incredible depth and went on to improve even further with time; wonderful character and complexity. There was a hint of pear and candied, menthol-ised pineapple, and it had fucking awesome minerality and exactly the right level of acidity.
Everything else I could say would turn to repetitive drivel. So I will just say that this is a no compromise, no nonsense wine that you will either hate or love to bits; I feel it is truly spectacular.
I think I want to drink a whole bottle, over a period of several hours. You make it sound so lovely!
I'll just add two things about Kühn: One, his three-grape wines have repeatedly been refused Großes Gewächs (great growth) status because they have not been found to be "typical" of the Rheingau. What this says about the Rheingau or about the german wine bureaucracy, or about plain unmitigated envy, I leave up to you. Two, I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has actually managed to engage P.J. Kühn in a meaningful conversation about his wines, because I have tried and failed, and it seems that other german wine bloggers have suffered the same fate.
Nice review and btw, have you
Nice review and btw, have you ever had his sweet wines? Some are mind blowing!
I had the pleasure of meeting PJ Kühn several times and he truly is a bit particular about discussing his wines. And I can see why since his wines tend to go through phases - they can be pretty disappointing if you open them at the wrong time and then a year later - boom! Superb. But PJ Kühn is also a down to earth bloke who tends to listen to wine critics with a big grin on his face and I kind of like that.
In reply to Nice review and btw, have you by Alex
Thanks for your comment, Alex! Sadly, I have never tasted a sweet Kühn, but after this experience I will most certainly hunt for more of his wines. From what you say it should be an adventure.