'Few estates in the world can claim to have maintained the highest quality standards uninterrupted for half a century and more. Joh Jos Prüm, the most famous of the many Mosel wine estates bearing the Prüm name, is one estate that can. Since the early 1920’s its wines have been among Germany’s best Rieslings with the Mosel’s vivacious aroma and racy elegance in its highest form.'
Stuart Pigott, The Wine Atlas of Germany
So 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 2017er Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett is still quite marked by residual scents from its spontaneous fermentation. It then gradually reveals its nose made of herbs, green apple, white peach and mint. The wine proves very light and delicate on the transparent yet quite lean palate. The medium long and off-dry finish is straight, zesty and crisp. This Kabinett is as light as water and there is just a touch of ripeness coming through in the after-taste which gives the wine a slightly bigger side. There is ample upside if it manages to harness the power at maturity.
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.
WINE & SPIRITS MAGAZINE
The first sip of this wine was like getting a smack for having opened it so soon. The acidity is sharp and unforgiving against the stony flavors; the tautness of the structure gives the wine the snap of a rubber band. But that’s a good sign: Clearly, this wine has something to protect—like the pristinely ripe, clean fruit it eventually reveals in scents of Meyer lemons and tart gooseberries, green pears and tangy pineapple. Pulled from old vines, most of them on their own roots, and vinified in stainless steel with ambient yeasts, it’s regal and restrained. In keeping with JJ Prüm’s age-worthy style, this is set to develop well over the next decade or more.
STEPHAN REINHARDT - WINE ADVOCATE
The 2017 Graacher Himmelreich Kabinett offers a clear, bright, fresh and flinty bouquet with nice reduction. On the palate, the wine is light, lush, piquant, fresh and salty, with grip, tension and spring-like clarity and freshness. A gorgeous, highly stimulating Kabinett. Tasted in March 2019.
Racy, with powerful acidity and amazing purity, this shows flavors of lemon curd, peach and dandelion tea. Herbal notes emerge toward the finish, providing added interest. Long and complex on the mouthwatering finish.
Faithful to the producer's classic style, prominent notes of smoke and flint introduce this wine. With patience and aeration, it opens to reveal pretty notes of lemon and lime along with juicy, concentrated flavors of white grapefruit, honey and hibiscus nectar. It's a complex, deeply concentrated wine that pulsates with acidity and minerality. Hold till at least 2022, but it will reward cellaring well through 2030.