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This is a time of year that I love in the UK wine trade. Several times a week mornings find me on the train to London and looking forward to giving my senses a proper work-out at one or other of the myriad tastings that populate the autumn season.
And it is my intention to scour these events with a view to bringing you the finest and most interesting bottles I encounter over this period. (I will repeat my mantra re me being under no obligation to buy anything. Wines appearing on these offers have met and exceeded my expectations and are very much the sort of wines I want to have in my own cellar.)
Let's start with a producer of exceptional stature.
The firm of JJ Prum was formed as a result of the division of the firm of SA Prum in the early 20th century (although there have been Prums in Wehlen for 4 centuries). It now occupies a place at the very pinnacle of Riesling production worldwide, with its sweetest wines being among the most expensive sold anywhere (Wine Searcher has the estate's Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese at No.6 in its list of the world's most expensive wines).
Dr Manfred Prum has now been joined by his daughter Dr Katharina Prum, who has been responsible for wine making since the '07 vintage. (N.B. The doctorates held by both father and daughter are in law, rather than anything horticultural.)
The estate has 50 acres of vineyards altogether, 20 of which are planted on the extraordinarily precipitous, south-west facing, slate slopes of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard (Wehlener: of the village of Wehlen; Sonnenuhr: sundial).
These are among the world's greatest and most age-worthy wines. Drinking Prum in its maturity is a celestial experience. Anyone with even a passing interest in fine white wine should have a few cases of Prum wine in their cellar.
2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, JJ Prum
£93 in bond per 6; £96 in bond per 3 magnums Drink 2022-32
"This manages to be both airy and floral and is exceptionally pretty to smell. The palate has a spine of really firm acidity that fires the palate towards a astonishingly far off finish. Such lightness of touch, yet there's power and density here, along with the most beguiling fruit." My note
2015 Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese, JJ Prum
£96 in bond per 6; £114 in bond per 3 magnums Drink 2025-40
"All energy and potential in a dense, stunningly exciting package. A really rich wine through which the grip swells to a super-long finish. This is properly assertive right through to a very firm death. A monument in the making." My note
2015 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, JJ Prum
£138 in bond per 6; £153 in bond per 3 magnums Drink 2026-45+
"There is immediate tension here. The grip is disarming: vast, yet submerged within the extraordinarily rich, dense fruit. Incredible sustain here...yet it is a babe in arms and requires time in bottle. I am, in all honesty, left breathless and requiring a bit of a sit-down." My note
A couple of N.B.s:
The Graacher Himmelreich vineyard is similar to Wehlener Sonnenuhr in that it is more-or-less south-west facing and loaded with slate.
These are the sort of wines that properly tickle my nethers. The 2015 vintage has produced wines that will become veritable monuments; tasting them one wonders how such power and intensity can be allied to scintillating elegance and loveliness.
Kabinett wines are the driest, although they would certainly be classified as off-dry. The Mosel Kabinetts are also low in alcoholic punch, typically 7-8.5%abv. Wait for a hot spell, then uncork this under a tree in the garden. Prepare to dream of Elysian fields...
Spatlese - a little weightier and sweeter. Drink on its own, with cheese, for elevenses with a piece of cake. It really doesn't matter where or when one takes pleasures of this intensity.
Auslese - medium-sweet ambrosia. Cheese. Anything. And then more...
To order any of these wines, please email Caspar Bowes.