Goosebumps: an interview with Riesling Fellow Peter Kuhn
From the 1990s onwards, the name Peter Kuhn and his Boucherville wine store became renowned for German wines on the Swiss wine market. It was there that the Swiss wine connoisseur started his commitment to German wines, which was instrumental in their positive image change among Swiss consumers. In 2016 Kuhn was awarded the title "Riesling Fellow" to honour his commitment and love for German Riesling. Since 2014 he has also been running his own wine trading business with a magnificent portfolio of German wines.
1. What was the first German wine you ever tried and when?
That must have been in the early 80s. But I can't even remember if it was white or red. But I still remember very well the 1992 Riesling Spätlese dry, Ürziger Würzgarten from Dr. Loosen. The first dry Riesling from Germany that overwhelmed me and gave me goose bumps. The wine already had about eight years of ageing and it literally shone out of the glass, concentrated, with freshness, ripe fruit and the finest mineral power.
2. What was your most memorable moment with German wine?
A difficult question because there have been so many moments in the past thirty years that have triggered positive vibrations in me that I still fondly remember today. The many, always very entertaining and stimulating, lunches or dinners with winegrowers, where mostly ripened Rieslings and sophisticated, regional cuisine were served. How can you experience German wines in a more beautiful setting? The most memorable moments for me were the Riesling Gala in the Eberbach Monastery and the VDP-GG preview in Wiesbaden. They are clearly the two occasions that gave me insights into the epicenter of German winemaking in a unique and ingenious way. I can't imagine more of a paradise for a Riesling fan.
3. What is your favorite place in the German wine regions and why?
I can't even decide which is my favorite wine region in Germany. But immediately, thirty years ago, I was particularly enthusiastic about two regions: the Mosel and the Palatinate (Pfalz). Then the Rheingau was added and now Baden is one of them. But that has not only to do with the winemakers or the wines, but also with the beautiful vineyards and landscapes, the townscape, the restaurants and hotels and the hospitality you encounter there. I always particularly look forward to the evenings when doing wine tours. Either we have an appointment with winemakers or we eat in a nice restaurant, enjoy the good cuisine, a ripe Riesling and Pinot Noir with it, and let the day and the wine impressions pass in review.
4. What would be your desert island bottle of German wine and why?
Because I'm a practical person, that would of course be a big bottle. Preferably a mature, dry Riesling. A Batterieberg or Ellergrub from Immich-Batterieberg, Mosel, a silver lacquer from Schloss Johannisberg or a Nonnenberg from Breuer? I hope I never have to make such a decision.
5. Do you have a favorite German dish and the ideal wine to go with it?
Wiesbaden, crispy roast duck and a nice, slightly ripened Pinot Noir come to mind first. But I'm no less looking forward to my next visit to the Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen. I also like to remember the fresh, crusty and tasty bread with lard from Palatinate gastronomy. A beautifully matured, harmonious and dry Riesling is almost always popular with us, as well as finesse-rich and profound Pinot Noir from talented winemakers!
6. Who would you like to share a glass of German wine with and why?
No name comes to mind in a hurry. Except maybe Anne Krebiehl MW, who lives and works in London. I met her many years ago in Wiesbaden at the VDP-GG preview, we happened to be sitting next to each other at lunch and the result was an entertaining and stimulating conversation. Since then, it has always been a pleasure for me to see her on various occasions and to chat with her.
7. Which German wine would you like to try because you haven't had the opportunity yet?
I can't name a specific wine or winery, but I love matured dry Rieslings more than anything and especially vertical tasting. If you have several vintages of a wine next to each other, I always find it very stimulating and entertaining, because the wines usually have a lot to tell and you just have to listen or smell them. I find that very beneficial and enriching. For me it’s the best way to really understand a wine. What I always enjoy most is that there are hardly any failures when every wine has the character of the vintage but is solid and straightforward. Seen in this way, there is still a lot to discover because there are already a lot of great dry Rieslings and the future looks simply intoxicating, because the wines are always finer and more nuanced, thanks to the devotion and passion of the winemakers.
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