'The wines, whether a modest Kabinett or an opulent Beerenauslese, are the epitome of filigree elegance: light in body but intense in flavour, exquisitely balanced and precisely tuned, and capable of the most extra-ordinary longevity. With the rise of so many excellent winemakers in the region, one might have supposed that J.J. Prüm, with its profound conservatism, might have been overtaken and left behind. Not a bit of it. The Estate remains where it has been for decades: at the summit.'
Stephen Brook, The Wines of Germany, Mitchell Beazley
What is the secret is to the quality of the J.J. Prüm wines? How is it that they differ so much in style and quality from the wines of most other Mosel producers? The answer, as always, lies mostly in the vineyards, backed up by winemaking of the highest order. Great sites, old vines, the lowest yields, very late harvesting and selection of only the best berries. In the winery the winemaking is as natural as possible with as little intervention as possible. The wines typically need several years to start showing their best and can live and develop for decades. Generally speaking, the later the harvest, the longer the wine can live, so Spatlese is more age worthy than Kabinett, Auslese more so than Spatlese, and so on.
Graacher Himmelreich directly borders the southern edge of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard. The wines from this site often often challenge those from its more famous neighbor, especially in hot, dry years. Graacher wines attract with their racy acidity, a pronounced minerality (that reminds of crushed rock) and slightly different fruit aromas and flavours (more in the citrus spectrum). Often, the wines become accessible slightly earlier than the Wehlener Sonnenuhr and are deliciously mouth-watering when young. Looking at the vineyard conditions, the hill faces slightly more westwards than the Wehlener Sonnenuhr , i.e. it has a more south-west exposure, it is a little less steep and has deeper soils which act as excellent water reservoirs.
This 2017 vintage Graacher Himmelreich Auslese immediately captures one’s attention through the complex yet refreshing side of its nose made of smoke, herbs, grilled citrus, yellow peach and grass. The wine is breathtakingly pure on the delicately creamy palate, where yellow peach and some almond cream add depth to the experience. The finish is superbly crisp, pure and vibrating. This is a delightfully zesty Auslese in the making. 2027-2047
The Mosel River Valley is probably the most famous and arguably the most admired wine region of Germany. In its wider sense, it includes the adjacent Saar and Rüwer (hence Mosel-Saar-Rüwer), both tributaries of the Mosel River, however it is the middle Mosel (mittelmosel), in particular between and including the towns of Bernkastel-Kues and Erden that the most brilliant wines tend to be produced. Berkastel, Grach, Wehlen, and Zeltingen are some of the most famous wine towns here. All of the vineyards of J.J. Prüm are located within this prestigious strip. The Prüm family history in the Mosel dates back as early as 1156! However Johann Josef Prüm (1873 - 1944), founded the J.J. Prüm estate in 1911. Dr Manfred Prüm has led the estate since 1969. Now his daughter Katharina is taking over the mantle. The 13.5 hectare estate includes some 70% of ungrafted vines (because the phylloxera louse cannot survive in these slate soils.) All of the vineyards of J.J. Prüm are renowned yet it is the great Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard that is the most famous. This site lies opposite the village of Wehlen on a very steep, south-west facing slope between the Graach and Zeltingen vineyards. Stuart Pigott notes; “For wine lovers around the world the Wehlener Sonnenuhr name is synonymous with great Riesling. In top vintages the site yields the richest, silkiest, most seductive wines on the Mosel. The fame of these Rieslings is inextricably linked with that of the Joh Jos Prüm estate.” Having said this, Prüm also produces outstanding wine from benchmark sites in Graach (Graacher Himmelreich), Zeltingen (Zeltinger Sonnenuhr) and Bernkastel (Bernkasteler Badstube) and it is very difficult to pick these wines apart in blind tastings – they are all exceptional. Yet they all subtly express the unique personality of the vineyard in a given year.
STEPHAN REINHARDT - WINE ADVOCATE
The 2017 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese is coolish, bright and fresh on the still-reductive but attractive nose with its fine Riesling and slate aromas. The wine is salty-piquant and terribly fresh on the palate, with very fine Riesling and crispy-salty slate expressions. This Auslese is highly refined, crystalline and more intellectual compared to the Badstube, but hedonists would take it as well. A gorgeous, highly digestible Auslese. Tasted in March 2019.
Spicy, smoky earth tones and shards of slate juxtapose decadent sweet grapefruit and yellow cherry in this complex auslese. It's light as a feather yet unctuously ripe and rich with a reverberating fringe of bitter chestnut skin. A bit tight now but it should reveal stunning layers of fruit and earth from now–2040.