I had the chance to taste two different wines from the same winery, same vineyard, same vintage, but two different levels of ripeness while I was at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. I guess as a “Street Somm” I have some knowledge, but I am still in awe of how little I know after fifty years of enjoying wines. Over the years I have tried to have wines from many different regions and at many different price points and tasting wines is a lot of fun. The Prum family have had a presence in the winemaking in Wehlen for over four-hundred years, and the estate as is now known was established in 1911 by Johann Josef Prum and it was under the guidance of his son Sebastian and later his sons and onto the fourth generation that have maintained the quality level that is respected world-wide. They have fourteen hectares of holdings in five Grosse Lages or First Growth Vineyards and they only grow and produce Riesling wines. Directly across from their base of operations is the legendary Sonnenuhr (Sundial) Vineyard in Wehlen, which is a very long and steep vineyard that runs along the Mosel River and the soil is noted for its blue shale and there are about twenty wineries that have vines in Sonnenuhr, but the Joh. Jos. Prum winery is the largest and most known.
German wines are also known for their unique harvesting methods. The towns and the wineries decide on a date of when to begin harvesting. Then there is the concept of Pradikat in the Qualitatswein or when I started out it was Qualitatswein mit Pradikat (MP) which denoted the best of the best in German wines. There are six official Pradikats and I will only mention the first three, otherwise I would be in the first pages of a doctoral thesis to do it properly. Kabinet is the lightest style and is from the official first pickings of harvest and the wines tend to be dry or medium-dry in style. Spatlese which means “late harvest” can be anywhere from a week or more in the harvesting of grapes from the initial harvest date and the wines tend to be richer, more concentrated in flavor and sweeter compared to the Kabinet. Auslese means “selected harvest” and is made from grapes that have some appearances of botrytis or “the noble rot” and this harvesting can begin at the same time as the harvest for Spatlese, as the pickers use a basket that has a smaller compartment to put Auslese grapes in, and this harvesting can be done over several days of repeated picking and this wine is even fuller and sweeter compared to the Spatlese. Also, as we go up the ladder, the wines actually need longer times in the cellar to be fully appreciated.
The first wine that I tried was the Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2017. The label gives the name of the winery, the village, the vineyard, the grape and the harvest information along with the vintage. Finding the production notes was beyond my research capabilities. A great nose offering minerals and fruit secondary, with the taste being of tropical citrus fruits, salt and a nice finish with terroir and an excellent example of what a Mosel wine should be. The Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2017 was extremely impressive, especially following the Spatlese. The nose was more decisive showcasing the blue shale and mangos and bananas, while the suppleness on the palette was lush, and complex and very tight and finished with a nice long count. This wine even to an amateur like me, when it comes to German wines, let me know that it was way to young to be fully appreciated, and it was truly night and day different and I really didn’t want the finish to end. In twenty years, it would be awesome and a night of memories.