Product information

Joh Jos Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling MAGNUM 2021

Riesling from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Mosel, Germany

$350

$340ea in any 3+
$330ea in any 6+
Closure: Cork
The Wehlener Auslese had everything.

Description

“The 2021er Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese offers a superbly complex and pure fresh nose of candied grapefruit, vineyard peach, verbena, almond cream, smoke, and a hint of cassis. The wine proves superbly honeyed and creamy on the palate, where riper elements of pineapple, honeyed peach, and apricot are wrapped in candied citrusy fruits. The wine is intense and still quite broad but the finish is already pure and hugely long. This is a splendid refined Auslese, which just needs time to develop all its facets. 2036-2061”

Mosel Fine Wines 96 Points SR 97

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Check out all of the wines by Joh Jos Prüm

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

“Katharina Prüm and her team have managed to get the best out of the 2021 vintage and have translated its lightness and finesse in the most brilliant way… the estate’s 2021s are racy, vibrant, and pure, and share a remarkable energetic side. lovers of fine and elegant wines will love the estate’s 2021s.”
Jean Fisch and David Rayer, Mosel Fine Wines

The German System

Wow, even the most dedicated wine geek often has trouble getting their head around the German naming systems, something they’ve been working on simplifying!

When it comes to wines containing some level of grape sugar, the Germans have a classification that dictates ranges of sugar levels grapes for a specific wine must be picked at, in essence establishing a framework for the ripeness, amount of Bortytis and shrivel / raisoning the fruit should have when picked. The amount of grape sugar left in the wine after it has fermented, is up to the maker.

All of this super detailed information is interesting to know.

At the end of the day the most important thing is whether the wine meets those standard criteria for good wine. During Riesling Down Under it was great to hear winemakers from around the world, all saying they don’t care much for the numbers, they picked their fruit on flavour and made their wines to achieve balance and harmony.

The following is courtesy of Dr Loosen, who sums up German Riesling styles with sweetness beautifully

The Versatility of Riesling

Riesling is one of the few grapes that is capable of producing a complete spectrum of wine styles, from bone dry to lusciously sweet. The key to maintaining top quality throughout this broad range lies in a rigorous selection process. As the harvest progresses, we make daily decisions about each vineyard parcel based on the maturity of the fruit and the prevailing weather conditions. Healthy grapes are painstakingly separated from botrytis-affected fruit, and the various selections are vinified separately.

Classic Wines with Sweetness

Our traditional wines, with residual sweetness, are selected from the harvest according to their ripeness and flavour development. The finest lots from our classified vineyards are bottled with their corresponding single-vineyard name and ripeness (Prädikat) level. For the non-botrytis wines, there are two Prädikat levels, Kabinett and Spätlese.

Beyond the lightly sweet Kabinett and Spätlese bottlings, made without botrytis, there are three Prädikat levels of botrytis-selection wines that get progressively sweeter: Auslese, Beerenauslese [berry selection] and Trockenbeerenauslese [dried berry selection]. In addition, when vintage conditions allow it, we produce Eiswein from grapes that have frozen on the vine.

The picture from Dr Loosen above is a great illustration of the different conditions of grapes at harvest and the styles they are destined to make. You can see the level of Botrytis and shrivel / raisining increasing as we move through the styles from Kabinett to Trockenbeerenauslese. The Botrytis or Noble Rot, imparts wonderful flavours and textures to the wine, and is to be revered like the blue moulds of Rocquefort and the washed rind cheeses of Munster in Alsace, appropriately both cheeses marry beautifully with a glass of Riesling.

Note how the buckets are colour coded according to the end destination of the fruit and how little of the Trockenbeerenauslese is produced. The skill of pickers and willingness to pass through the vineyard several times to ensure all grapes are picked at the optimal time is the key to success.

The freshest style is Kabinett and as you move up the scale you’ll see additional complexity added by botrytis and other winemaking influences in addition to greater levels of sweetness. Each style whether Kabinett or Eiswein being perfect for consumption on different occasions with different foods. The Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and, Eiswein being exceptional dessert wines. Kabinett and Spätlese being suited to table wine consumption. The standard line for the German’s being that where the English offer tea to guests in the afternoon the German’s offer Kabinett or Spätlese wines, more akin to a table wine. That said I devoured a Wagner-Stemple Kabinett, with pasta and cheese on a 38°C day in Melbourne, perfection! Auslese sitting on either side depending on the style the estate makes.

This intense sorting process is beautifully articulated by Ernie Loosen from 2min 25sec in the vineyard below.

Prüm is an estate that prides itself in making beautifully balanced wines, no matter what the sugar level, that age incredibly well.

In 1993 I was hoovering bottles of Prüm, Spatlese and Auslese from 1983. All were still fresh and vibrant, yet, they had settled beautifully, showing great poise. These wines are from climates that often deliver bracing natural acidity. For the wine techies, pH is ofter 2.9-3.0, lower than, but, not far off Champagne, and, loads higher than Coke at a pH of 2.4. Again all the detail is irrelevant, the balance, poise and harmony in the glass being what really matters.

If you have any doubt about just how good these wines are, read this extract, from the article ’10 Things every wine lover should know about JJ Prüm’ by Stuart Piggot.

Take a look at Wine-Searcher’s summary of the world’s 50 most expensive wines, and you’ll find that none has as many white wines listed as Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm. This estate, located in the village of Wehlen in Germany’s Mosel wine region, is also known to wine lovers around the world as “J.J. Prüm”, or simply “J.J.”

Its Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) takes sixth place in the most-expensive list, with an average price of $5647. At #32 is the estate’s Riesling Beerenauslese (BA), and the Riesling Eiswein is at #43. All of these wines are from the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard site.

Recent auction results at Zachy’s give an idea of J.J. Prüm’s desirability. In September, 12 bottles of 1983 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese “Gold Cap” sold for $2450, and at the La Paulée auction in March two lots of 3 bottles of 1959 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling TBA each went for $15,925.

What makes this achievement all the more remarkable is the fact that as a category, sweet whites still struggle to gain the popular recognition which experts accord them, and all the “J.J.” wines stand out for their finesse and delicacy rather than their power.

“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

The Prüm Estate

The film below explores aspects of Prüm with the 2013 Vintage as context. Although not the year we are offering there are some worthwhile insights shared.

The Mosel River Valley is probably the most famous and arguably the most admired wine region in 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. Bernkastel, 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.)

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.

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.

The Vineyards in the Mosel Valley

Although the J.J. Prum vineyards all border each other along the same riverbank and share roughly the same soils (Devonian slate),  each site has subtle, yet important differences that result in quite distinctive styles of wine. We explore these in more detail in the wine reviews below. The vineyards we are looking at in this offer are those of Wehlener Sonnenuhr – The Sundial of Wehlen, Graacher Himmelreich – The Kingdom of Heaven, and, Bernkasteler Badstube.


You can see just how incredibly steep the vineyards of the Mosel can be and how dominant the slate rock is, often driving the root systems meters into the hillside.

The best vineyards of Germany’s Mosel Valley are incredibly steep, south-facing slopes with mineral-rich slate soil and a favourable position near the river. Excellent drainage and the heat-retaining quality of the rocky slate soil also help to produce fully ripe, concentrated wines. The combination of these elements results in racy, mineral-inflected Rieslings that are fruity, crisp and very refreshing to drink.

Map by Fernando Beteta, MS @fernandobeteta on Twitter

Bernkasteler Badstube is the last of the vineyard sites that can appear on a J.J. Prum label. This vineyard borders those of the Graacher Himmelreich on the latter’s southern edge. The Bernkasteler Badstube slopes are on a marginally shallower gradient, with deeper soils than the Graacher and Wehlener, while the western orientation allows the vines longer exposure to the afternoon sun. The Badstube typically produces a wonderfully floral, delicate and mineral wine. Overall, the wines are usually slightly more delicate in structure and weight when compared with the wines of Graacher or Wehlener but they are wonderfully racy and fine examples of the middle Mosel.

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.

The Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard has become intrinsically attached to the name of Joh. Jos. Prüm. The Estate owns five hectares of this majestic site. It offers perfect growing conditions for the Riesling grape with its deep, weather-beaten grey slate soil, good water support, extreme steepness of up to 70 % gradient, and its optimal south-south-west exposure. As for the Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Wehlener Sonnenuhr is named after the sundial erected in the vineyard in 1842 by Jodocus Prüm, an ancestor of J.J. Prüm, to give the workers a better time orientation. The wines of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr generally possess excellent structure, show beautiful, ripe aromas and flavours (typically stone fruits, like peach, nectarine, apricot), a fine minerality and great depth and length. Especially after having been aged for some years, the harmony, finesse and expression of these wines is unique. Riesling guru Stuart Pigott has written; “Joh Jos Prüm’s Sonnenuhrs are classic examples of the way in which the best Mosel wine’s natural sweetness magnifies, rather than obscures, their character. These are a perfect marriage of Riesling’s peach-like, floral and mineral aspects. White wine cannot be fresher, more vivid and delightful.”

JJ Prüm’s 2021 Vintage Report

Katharina Prüm talks about her estate’s 2021 vintage with a mix of excitement and relief. We’ve seen a series of powerful, baroque Prüm vintages during the last decade, particularly the last few years. While these wines have been showstopping, Prüm has noted that the style of these years contrasts with the more discreet and filigreed style on which the reputation of this iconic producer was forged.

In her introduction to the vintage, Katharina classifies 2021 as a flashback to the truly cool-climate Mosel years of the 1980s and early 1990. “It’s the kind of classical, fresh vintage that I really love,” she told us, “And the kind of vintage that my father [Manfred] would be very familiar with”. It was a genuinely cool season, temperatures were consistently lower than average throughout the year, and even as the grapes approached maturity, conditions remained moderate as cool autumnal nights returned to the Mosel.

Katharina told us that while parts of the season were challenging, the hard work has been more than worth it. A large amount of rainfall fell in July, boosting vegetation and keeping Viticulturist Marvin Bauer and his team on their toes with canopy management during the following weeks. The harvest, too—which ran through October 11 and lasted until November 15—was demanding, with the estate’s vineyard team re-visiting each parcel multiple times to ensure each Prädikat was picked at optimal ripeness. “We harvested really beautiful grapes, even if the volumes are on the lower side.”

As for the wines—2021 marks a triumphant homecoming for this estate’s trademark style of lightness and finesse. As a group, they are pristine wines, bursting with promise: ultra-pure, precisely tuned and classically filigreed Mosel Riesling with incredible drive and vivid freshness from the year’s penetrating acidity. Katharina notes that, unlike the traditional classical years of yore, her 2021s are surprisingly approachable—perhaps due to advancement in the cellar—though they will improve and live for decades along the lines of all the great vintages from this address.

If there is one downside this year, it is that the cooler conditions did not favour the production of a Goldkapsel bracket. Botrytis was exceptionally rare in 2021, and in most cases, the grapes did not meet the Oechsle levels necessary for this category. Prüm remains sanguine on their absence, “It reflects the nature of the year, and it means we’ll be even more appreciative the next time we bottle a Goldkapsel,” On the other hand, cooler years often make incredibly exciting Auslese, with a level of delicacy and detail that is strikingly different from riper years. This is undoubtedly the case in 2021.

In sum, 2021 is a beautiful vintage for this Mosel icon. Katharina describes it as a perfect antidote to the three warmer years that precede it. “I could not be happier,” she says. “People who love Mosel Riesling usually love acidity, so it’s a vintage that brings much joy.” Bring on the joy.

Preparing a Prüm Wine to Drink

Prüm’s winemaking often results in a burnt match aroma in young wines and wines just opened. As the wines age the character tends to dissipate. If you’re drinking a young Prüm it’s worth making sure you have time to allow it to breath in glass or to decant on opening if necessary.

After Prüm with a few years on it? Check out all of our Prüm wines!

96 Points

“The 2021er Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese offers a superbly complex and pure fresh nose of candied grapefruit, vineyard peach, verbena, almond cream, smoke, and a hint of cassis. The wine proves superbly honeyed and creamy on the palate, where riper elements of pineapple, honeyed peach, and apricot are wrapped in candied citrusy fruits. The wine is intense and still quite broad but the finish is already pure and hugely long. This is a splendid refined Auslese, which just needs time to develop all its facets. 2036-2061” 96 points, Jean Fisch and David Rayer, Mosel Fine Wines

Jean Fisch and David Rayer - Mosel Fine Wines

97 Points

“The 2021 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese is concentrated and fresh on the aromatic nose that is immediately present but also still reductive. Ripe stone fruit aromas intermingle with notes of crushed stones on a deep foundation of aromas from the soil and the fruit of old vines. On the palate, the 2021 is very fine but also intense, savory, saline and lush, leading to a long, intense and highly digestible finish with crunchy and cleansing slate features. Again, this is a fabulous Auslese from Prüm's iconic Sonnenuhr. 7% stated alcohol.”

Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate

Where in the world does the magic happen?

Weingut Joh. Jos. Prüm, Uferallee, Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Mosel
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer
Germany