I have always had a soft spot for 2007. Weather-wise, I can still recall the spring heatwave in March and April. Everything blossomed really early in Basel. The sun shone intermittently thereafter. The summer rain fell at just the right times and in judicious quantities. Peak temperatures around the mid-20s were the norm. But the autumn was gorgeous. In short, the climatic conditions were conducive to properly functioning human activity – even if the city’s open-air swimming pools welcomed fewer visitors than normal.
What is good for man is also good for the vine. And 2007 was a very solid year for both white and red. Though maybe more so for red – the warm spring and autumn, added to a moderate yet still half-decent summer, resulted in plenty of crucial hang time.
As is normally the case, conditions further north in the Pfalz were very similar. Based on this knowledge, I treated myself to three bottles of 2007 ‘Cuvée X’ a few years later. This was probably Knipser’s flagship red at the time. Essentially a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Cuvée X – along with its rare, super-premium sibling Cuvée XR – seems to me to have been one of the trailblazers for a whole slew of bold yet elegant red blends that were still relatively unheard of in Germany in the early 2000s. Other ‘game-changers’ that spring to mind include Markus Schneider’s ‘Steinsatz’ as well as Andreas and Steffen Rings’ ‘Das Kreuz’.
My first bottle, opened in around 2012, was still way too young. Now here is the second bottle, a full 10 years after the vintage.
Knipser, Cuvée X, Pfalz
For the wine’s colour, see the photo below. Immediate elegance on the nose. Dark chocolate, mocha, concentrated dark forest fruits and savoury tobacco. This sounds quite dense and brooding, but the aromas are pure and understated. Green peppers also emerge a little later. Incredibly elegant on the palate too, its fresh acidity almost reminding me of a Pinot Noir but with a somewhat darker, denser characteristic. The tannins are supple and melt on the tongue, lending a silky, airy mouthfeel that belies the medium-to-full body underneath. Waves of complexity wash over, with tertiary notes of lead (pencil shavings), iron (blood) and cigar tobacco, as well as dark berries and mocha. This leads to a long, persistent finish. It feels effortless. The 2007 vintage has done an ample job on its own in providing the requisite polish and ripeness. Instead, as with so many of its Germanic ilk that it helped to inspire, the wine oozes structure and elegance.
Ten years on and Cuvée X is starting to come into its own.