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.
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...