Philipp Kuhn was another fun discovery as while this is a very successful and respected winery in Germany and Europe, its wines had never been exported to the U.S. Although I also normally will only represent one winery in each region, my knowledge of terroir also led me to the Laumersheim area in the Pfalz region as I thought I could probably find some interesting wines.
As for the history of the winery, Philipp Kuhn’s family has lived in Laumersheim since the 17th century. Their vineyards are in both Laumersheim and in the surrounding villages of Grosskarlbach and Dirmstein. Since 1992 Philipp Kuhn Jr., who was only 20 years old at the time, has been in charge of wine cultivation and production at the winery estate. This is a very similar profile to another now recognized rising star of German wine which is Markus Molitor in the Mosel.
Philipp Kuhn's approach can be summed up very simply and directly:
“In order to make good wines it is essential to understand your vineyards”
when asked to describe the way he works. He has always been and continues to be involved in all vine plantings – with the exception of the old Riesling vineyards, which were planted before he was born.
The Philipp Kuhn approach also believes that superior wines can only be produced in harmony with nature and that healthy soil is essential for well-fed plants and naturally ripening grapes. All of their vineyards are cultivated and monitored in line with the principles of natural and sustainable viticulture. No insecticides or herbicides are used and there is also a commitment to biodiversity. Predominantly organic compost is used on the vines and special winter cover crops are grown to maintain and strengthen the vineyards.
The area's history and heritage have also been well recognized well before Philipp Jr. was born as it was in the 18th century that the wine specialist Johann Philipp Bronner, while classifying sites, confirmed the very good wine growing conditions around Laumersheim. Site maps dating back to 1837 used parcel names that even today stand for the best wines. While many wines today are vinified to please the known preferences of "international wine critics" the Philipp Kuhn wines continue to be true to the originally recognized and renowned flavor profiles produced from the area's very minerally soils and very consistent growing conditions.
Laumersheim lies at the south-easterly foot of the Orlenberg hill, which is just under 600 feet high. This vine-covered hill is a limestone knoll that was created during the lowering of the Rhine rift millions of years ago and now towers like a monolith above the Rhine river plains in front of the Pfälzer Wald Forest. The Laumersheim vineyards owe their outstanding climatic and geological character to this island-like state. Craggy limestone rocks and a special micro-climate envelop the vine-covered slopes.
The grapes for the local wines of Laumersheim that carry the name “vom Kalksteinfels” (grown on limestone rock) grow in these conditions. Rieslings as well as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir wines symbolize the very minerally wines made in the Northern Palatinate from such limestone rich soils. Older vines that were planted in 1962 grow on fine-grained loess soil whose substrate is crisscrossed by limestone veins. The walls of loess that lie underneath large parts of this vine-covered slope are frequently more than fifty feet thick.
Loess is fine sediment or dust derived from glacial abrasion of bedrock. Left behind after the ice crust and glaciers have melted away, it has been deposited on the slopes of the Rhine Valley. This loess is crisscrossed by the finest of mineral sediment and produces very vigorous, juicy and fruity Riesling wines as well as concentrated Burgundy-type wines.
Village vineyards surrounding Laumersheim
A very happy ladybug in the very healthy Philipp Kuhn vineyards
Vineyard in an old limestone quarry
Philipp in the vineyard
An extensive barrel cellar for perfectly aged wines
An expansive view of Lamersheim vineyards
Riesling "Tradition" Trocken 2017
This is Philipp Kuhn's "basic" Riesling and it is very delightful and refreshing. Initial aromas are of gardenia, honeysuckle, and lemon compote. Flavors include honeydew melon, pink grapefruit, and a hint of lemon along with some interesting "buttery" accents. There is a medium to full mouthfeel which saturates the palate along with perfect balance and delicate acidity.
This is an extremely versatile wine with food and pairings would include veal, pork, sole, scallops, sea bass, swordfish, seafood salads, baked and grilled chicken, chicken enchiladas, Indian seafood and vegetable dishes, Asian pork and chicken dishes, vegetable stir fry, vegetable casseroles, pasta salad, green salads, onion soup, and medium/hard cheeses.
Riesling "Vom Kalksteinfels" Trocken 2017
This is from an extra limestone rich vineyard area near Laumersheim. Aromas are of camellia, gardenia, and faint hints of wood which evolve into flavors of Meyer lemon and honeydew melon. This is medium bodied but with a full "saturated" mouthfeel that is very refreshing along with also having nice balance and pleasant acidity.
This is another very versatile wine with a broad range of food pairings which would include veal, pork, sole, swordfish, grilled and baked chicken, pork sausages, pasta with cream sauce, Asian stir fry and chicken dishes, vegetable stir fry, mild curries, sushi, vegetable casseroles, cream soups, quiche, and hard cheeses.
Grauer Burgunder "Vom Loess" Trocken 2017
I found this wine quite intriguing with tropical fruit aromas of pineapple, lychee, and kiwi along with flavors of honeydew melon and a hint of pineapple. Initial perceptions are of a light mouthfeel but the wine then saturates your entire palate with perfect balance, light acidity, and a very refreshing finish.
Food pairings would include sole, shrimp, sea bass, halibut, seafood salads, smoked fish, pork, veal, Asian noodles and salads, mild curries, pasta salads, light green salads, and steamed vegetables.
This is not quite as “exotic” as the very interesting 2015 but overall has much more elegance and balance. Aromas include dark cherries, dark plums, rich red roses, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries along with hints of vanilla and violets. Flavors include raspberries, dark cherries, and pomegranate. There continues to be refreshing limestone minerality from wines around Laumersheim, a medium to full body, perfect balance and acidity, and a nicely balanced hint of moderate tannins on the finish.
Food pairings would include Filet Mignon, New York steak, short ribs, beef stew, grilled burgers, pork roast, pork shoulder, lasagna, pasta with meat sauce, Asian beef, pork, and chicken stir fries, Indian Tandoori and Lamb dishes, charcuteries, and cheeses including mild and blue.