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Philipp Kuhn, Cuveé Luitmar, 2008

So there you sit in Tuscany, enjoying the evening sun and sipping on your Sangiovese blend - oh, wait! It is not Tuscany but the German wine growing region of the Pfalz (Palatinate) and you are not drinking a Chianti but a German red. Sounds unlikely? Well, unlikely it may be but certainly not impossible: Pfalz winemaker Philipp Kuhn is well known for his red wines and one of them, the Cuveé Luitmar, is indeed made of Sangiovese.

Not just Sangiovese but also Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch (also known as Lemberger) - not exactly what you would expect from a German wine...

You may have your doubts, but in Germany at least Kuhn has built up a good reputation for his reds, and he seems to be quite proud of the Luitmar - the name references the village where Kuhn's winery is based:

Luitmar is the name of the man who founded the settlement called “Luitmaresheim” which was later changed into Laumersheim. The LUITMAR is one of the most exciting, unusual and most successful German red cuvées. Repeated participation in the final round of the German Red Wine Competition and one first prize are indicative of its consistently high quality.

Now, this is Kuhn's marketing speaking - but how does the wine introduce itself? With a bouquet that has a nice warm touch, but not so warm as to feel boozy. It smells of fresh woodlands, mint, cherry liquor and berries, spiced with earthy notes and a smoky, paprika touch of wood. The Luitmar is a, in the best sense of the word, consistent wine in that it delivers what the bouquet promised: a wine of some substance with earthy and vegetable notes and lots of deep, dark fruit such as plum and currant - but also herbal sharpness and fresh acidity to balance the alcohol. It has a nice finish that brings out the herbal sharpness in a pleasant way; the tannins are still noticeable but well integrated - making me think I should have waited another year or two for it to show its full potential.

Even so the Luitmar is a very good wine and I found it particularly good with food (a spicy bolognese) that made the herbs come out really well and give the dish extra spicing. I am not suggesting you give up on a good Chianti and the Italy holiday, but if you are ever in the Pfalz and can get hold of a bottle - there is so little Sangiovese planted in German it doesn't even show in the statistics I have consulted - the Luitmar should not disappoint.

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