Philipp Kuhn, Merlot, 2007

Philipp Kuhn, Merlot, 2007

When the topic of Merlot comes up, most people will think of Paul Giamatti's 'I am not drinking any fucking Merlot' rant from the movie Sideways. Some will leave it at that as they dislike (or think they dislike) Merlot. Others will point out that Merlot isn't actually that bad. The number of people who will look to Germany for Merlot would be rather small though. Since my recent experience with Philipp Kuhn's Merlot from the Pfalz, I am definitely one of them though. Philipp Kuhn is one of those German winemakers who confidently cover what seems like the whole spectrum of wine, from Riesling to Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Viognier, Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Lemberger, a few others - and Merlot.

Kuhn would be even more surprising to an international audience as 50% of his wines are red and (with the exception of tiny quantities in some years) all are dry. So not very German, you might say.

However, dry wine is very popular in Germany and red is certainly on the rise - about a third of German wine is red. Even so, Merlot is still only grown on a few hundred hectare of land. So what about this somewhat unusual specimen then? The colour is a dark, dense, intense red - so much so that one of my drinking companions called it 'dark matter'. Intense is also a good way to describe the bouquet: old leather boots, dark berries and spice mix up nicely with dusty, smoky aromas and notes of buttery, autumnal mushrooms and cocoa. 'Drunk in my nose' is how the same friend, a lover of substantial reds, described the Merlot.

How's that for a German red? And no, these are not the old leather boots we smelled
How's that for a German red? And no, these are not the old leather boots we smelled
And how does it taste? Substantial, as you may have suspected. A wine that has substance and power and lots of fruit. However, it is also smooth, with soft tannins and refreshing acidity plus a tasty nougat-peppery finish to balance things. Not too heavy on the tongue, Philipp Kuhn's Merlot still has enough substance to seriously appeal to the friend of heavy reds. It does not come at a bargain price, but is fair value for a very enjoyable wine. Perhaps one should have introduced Miles, the character Giamatti plays in Sideways, to Merlot from the fucking Pfalz...


Submitted by David Strange Friday, 17/12/2010

German Merlot? Sounds fascinating! We really have to meet up one day so I can try one of your array of intriguing German reds. Would you fancy a trip to Hawksmoor one Monday evening in the new year? If not, casa Strange is always happy to accept enlightened guests.

Keep well.

Submitted by torsten Saturday, 18/12/2010

In reply to by David Strange

Both Hawksmoor or casa Strange next year sound very good. Some of the more unusual reds have been finished off, but there may still be a few more hiding somewhere... Let's sort something out early next year!

Submitted by torsten Monday, 19/09/2011

In reply to by Marisa D'Vari

Lucky you. I am sure it will be an interesting visit. Kuhn, with his broad range of wines and styles, should make for an exciting tasting. There is "classical" German Pinot Noir, Riesling - mostly dry but also sweeter ones -, Chardonnay etc. and really interesting and unusual red wines. In my wine rack there is, among others, a blend that also includes Sangiovese... Not quite what you would expect from Germany. The Pfalz can be very exciting, so have fun, Marisa - I am looking forward to read how it went.