Sirens and Sundials Led This JJB Buyer to JJ Prum

by Chuck Hayward

Sirens & Sundials Led This JJB Buyer to JJ Prum

Post by David Derby| April 26th, 2011

The Rheingau is the most prestigious of German wine areas, thanks to the backing of the church to push their cause. But for both the wine lover and the casual tourist, the Mosel sounds the Siren’s call, enticing with breathtaking natural beauty and charming little villages, all washed down with the most delightful local wines.

The Mosel singing its song

From south to north, the Mosel flows from the ancient city of Trier (over 2000 years old) to the confluence with the Rhein at Koblenz. On an extremely twisty route, it can be rather disorienting. Which way is east, which is west, and why is there yet another bend in the river?? One trick I learned is that the more vineyards planted on a hillside, that hillside is likely facing south or southwest. Meanwhile, the northern section of the Mosel is lined with castles on both sides of the river, as taxes and tolls were charged to travel the river in times of yore.

The middle Mosel is often referred to as "the sweet spot," referring to both the place where the best wines come from and also to the ability to produce grapes at the higher ripeness levels for use in dessert wines. From the town of Bernkastle-Kues to the town of Zeltingen-Rachtig, the Mosel flows from east to west with truly unbelievably steep hillsides facing south to southwest.

No need for a watch!

In the very center of all this—what I like to call the bull’s eye—is the town of Wehlen, with the oo-la-la vineyard Wehlener-Sonnenuhr. (The name comes from the ancient sun-dial that sits perfectly on the hillside.) While there are a fair number of producers who get their hands on its fruit, the consensus is that Joh. Jos. Prum makes the best final product. Reasons for this include owning the largest and finest sections, a long, long history of knowing how to work the site, and good old-fashioned talent.  Dr. Katharina Prum told us that the 2010s were tank samples and not finished.

My reviews are for their bottled wines:

2008 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett  Fresh apple on a bed of slate. Grace and elegance like a ballerina (the White Swan) and just a little time in bottle has brought out so much. Stellar!

2007 Joh. Jos. Prum Bernkastler Badstube Spatlese This is the equivalent of a village wine. The Prum talent shines here as the extra ripeness is keenly balanced to produce a succulent and balanced wine. Bravo!

2007 Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich  Spatlese  The other super-premium vineyard in the Prum portfolio. Coming along nicely, still young. Very fresh and lively; clean and energetic. Well done!

2009 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese While still a baby, this baby sings. Plenty of slate minerality gives a stony edge; its purity makes me think of an eagle gliding on currents over a valley. Sublime! Life is good…