2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett AP #19

2004 jj prum ws kabinett2004 jj prum ap

Mosel, 8.5% Light, bright lemon colour, with vibrant scents of red apple,and  ripe nashi pear.

Lime and mineral reign on a viscous palate that just floats along with apple crumble, spices, and texture. Pure, with plenty of acidity too – what a charmer – this is one of the best Kabinetts I have ever tasted. Although JJ Prum wines are renowned for longevity, and Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a marvellous site, this wine displays the magic of bottle maturation for even the humble, and affordable Kabinett classification.

Its tremendous vitality, balance and complexity, means drink to 2030 in comfort, and 94 points.

German wines should contain an approval number. From left to right the numbers indicate region, village, Estate, the lot number (a bottling number), and year tested (usually one year after vintage). The bottling number (the 19 in my photo) is key, and I have tried to list these with wines tasted. See the excellent Mosel Fine Wines guide for a greater explanation and why the AP number is important. Unfortunately, importers and auction houses do not always provide the information.

Cellartracker lists 4 different AP’s for 2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett. From the number of  different wines stored by subscribers, and their scores and comments, it seems I lucked into a superior AP – purchased at a local auction in 2013.

Mid-priced imports

 

midrange imports

We’re recently allowed some small gatherings, but I opened these two wines at home recently; they are not monstrously expensive – (Kabinetts $35-70 depending on brand; the Fonseca LBVP was around $50 recently) – but sweeter German Rieslings and the uber-fashionable dry GGs can easily exceed $100; Vintage Ports from the sensational 2016 and 2017 vintages are, alas, closer to $200.

2008 JJ Prum Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 8.5%
Gifted to me a while ago; my go-to Prum is the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, with occasional deviations to Graacher Himmelriech (Bernkastler Lay can be special too). 2008 was an “open” year, but Prum is usually backward, fully priced but usually delivers. Mosel Kabinett is “off-dry” but Prum tends to be sweeter than expected, and can still last many years.  Very pale, there is the tell-tale red apple and petroleum, nettle, earthiness and spice notes. The palate is highly acidic, with some grippiness- nashi pear, citrus, apple. Varietal, distinctly Mosel, but drink up while the fruit remains intact- the acidity is pretty dominant, which won’t be to everyone’s favour.

Drink to 2023,  88 points

2011 Fonseca Late-bottled vintage unfiltered 20%
2011 was a mighty year for Portuguese Vintage Port; late-bottled is an easier, more approachable, (and more affordable category), with a longer time in oak (or tank) to ameliorate some of the tannic stuffing. Confusingly, the LBV wines may be ready on release – or capable of cellaring. Unfiltered is a clue that some ageing is expected – yet there was no discernible sediment here, and the stopper was another surprise.

This wine was bottled in 2016, and is nearly crimson in colour. It displayed fig, blueberry, plum, violet and mixed spices and wild herbs; the palate showed cherry, milk chocolate, spices and sound spirit integration. 108 g/l residual sugar is neatly balanced with the fruit, and alcohol. Fine tannins add further interest. I was hoping for greater concentration, but it’s so easy to reach for another glass – a great test of a wine’s engagement.

Drink to 2025, and 90 points.

 

 

 

2006 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling Goldkap AP#17 7.5%

The gold capsule indicates “more” than an auslese category; greater ripeness, and complexity. This category from JJ Prum retails for around twice the price of the auslese. The combination of very special site, the experienced team that have mastered this style, the opulent botrytis-laden vintage, and the Goldkap combine to make a remarkable wine.

This is an outstanding Mosel Riesling. Bright gold in colour, it exudes a mesh of floral citrus, light smoke, petroleum jelly (decidedly not kerosene), mango, red apple, and furriness. The palate hums along with acidity and the most seductive and utterly compelling texture and length. Honey, plus citrus, with the affluent residual sugar entirely wrapped up with acidity; it oozes pleasure and decadence.

My brief note from May 2010 is similar “complex, penetrating with plenty of acidity, petroleum jelly, red apple and red fruits, amazing length 19/20)”

No harm to drink now, but anytime to 2035 with comfort. I wavered but it deserves 97 points.

Don’t hesitate if you can find it.

1998 Stanton and Killeen Vintage (port) 18%, plus other impressions

At 21 years of age, this Rutherglen (Victoria) fortified is still very youthful. It has 1 gold and 5 silver medals to its credit and composition is 26% Shiraz, 26% Touriga, 20% Durif, 13% tinta cao, 13% tinta barocca, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; a mix of “traditional Australian”, and Portuguese varieties. Remarkably, the wine is still available ($114) – with many other vintages- on the Stanton and Killeen website.

1998 S&K VP

The cork emerged well, and in excellent condition. The colour is outstanding for its age, a very dense dark black crimson,  and there is an exciting range of aromas- dark liqueur cherry, almond-meal, blueberry, mulberry, and spice notes The quality of (brandy) spirit is excellent, and has integrated well. The palate is sweeter than Portuguese versions, but certainly drier than most Australian attempts. The palate is full-bodied but very supple, showing a lingering mix of black and red fruits, red liquorice and fine chalky tannins.  Above all, it is deliciously drinkable.

Drink to 2030, and 93 points.

1986 Stanton and Killeen Vintage Port
Served blind, this wine was bricky in colour, showing sweet mocha notes, dried fruits and citrus peel. The spirit was sweet; the palate was also sweet, soft and mellow, and seemed Australian in style. The milk chocolate and plum flavours suggested Victorian origins, and my conclusion “around 30 years old, Victorian, Shiraz” turned out to be reasonably accurate. (95% Shiraz, 5% durif). The wine is fully mature, and bottle quality may differ!

Drink to 2025, 90 points

2007 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling AP#22 7.5%
Very pale in colour, this Mosel wine is supremely elegant and needs much more time (still) to reveal more of its charms. It displays smoke, petroleum, crunchy ripe red apple and tropical fruits, particularly just-ripe pineapple. The palate is pebbly, sustained and the acidity really masks the considerable sweetness. This is a mouth-filling, creamy, intense and decadent wine, but it’s not yet resolved, and I recommend a further 5 years aging if you are fortunate to own any.

Drink to 2035, 92 points –  with more in the future.

1975 Hardy’s Vintage Port (special release museum stock) 17.5%, and more

With 4 trophies and 20 gold medals up to 1987, this is a special wine. From McLaren Vale, South Australia, the cork has thankfully performed its duty, and the wine seems younger than its 44 years.

1975 hardy's vp

It’s a solid brick red colour (with substantial sediment that makes decanting worthwhile). Fig, rose-hip,  blackberry, espresso and sweet integrated brandy spirit are evident. Drier than the typical traditional Oz style, this wine is immaculately manicured; the satin-fine tannins melded with blackberry and a supremely extended palate fully demonstrates why obsessives bother cellaring this style.

Drink to 2030, 95 points.

2009 (Forstmeister Geltz) Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Diabas 12%
Destined for a “GG”, a cask stopped at 16 g/l residual sugar. Pale lemon colour with arresting aromas of passionfruit, white flower, red apple, and ripe green herbs. The wine is compelling in its length, texture and interest (nashi pear)  that will suit many cuisines (Asian or something simple such as smoked salmon). This Mosel area wine sits at a “feinherb” level (less than Kabinett) and is completely,  winningly delicious.

Drink to 2025, 93 points

2007 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese Goldkapsule 7.5%
The gold capsule denotes a bit “extra” for its category (some producers use “stars” such as **).

This Mosel wine instantly showed its style and class. Nettle, herb, and petroleum with white peach notes; the palate has rich tropical notes and brisk lemon but the balance of sugar and acidity makes it feathery; and a total, supple delight.

Drink to 2030, and 92 points.

Mixed drinks, recent short impressions

2003 Joh Jos Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 8%
Very pale lemon in colour, there is an array of the usual petroleum (not kero), and faint smokiness mixed with tropical fruits of mango, passionfruit, a pull of citrus, flint and warm spices. The palate is sweet, fresh, viscous  and long-lasting. The wine got better as it sat in the glass.

Its not easy to resist the style, one of my favourite Mosel vineyards plus the combination of freshness and bottle-aged complexities. It’s a triumph of old vines and winemaking nous over the heatwave European 2003 vintage.

95 points, and drink to 2030.

2014 Chateau La Tour blanche 14%
Sauternes (83% semillon, 12% sauvignon blanc, 5% Muscadelle; 130 g/l r/s)

A great VFM Sauternes producer, and a wonderful result from an excellent vintage. Light gold in colour, the wine displayed vibrant nettle, stonefruit, pineapple rind and bright lemon icing sugar. The palate showed more barley-sugar, and some vanilla pod to add to the aromatics. Rich, sweet, balanced with much more pleasure to cover over the next ten to fifteen years.

The range of fruit flavours, the complexity and balance makes the wine a delight.

94 points, and drink to 2030 (at least)

2014 Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey
Sauternes (93% Semillon, 6% sauvignon blanc, 1% Muscadelle)

Served (masked) at the same occasion as the La Tour Blanche above, this wine looked darker in colour, showed greater – and simpler- tropical fruits, and custard apple. The palate was sweet, fresh and supple, but with greater oak presence, some hardness, and some bitterness. Time may help, but the contrast did not help its cause.

87 points, drink to 2023.

1952 Saltram Pinnacle selection Show Muscat 18.8%
Barossa muscat, stored in small oak, believed to have been bottled sometime in the 1980’s.

Colour (after decanting) was a bright khaki, and the wine showed caramel, toffee, mocha. Some raisin character, and a degree of vanillan oak and rancio.

Served masked as usual, the mix of attributes made it difficult to decide style between muscat and tawny; the lushness pushing for muscat, the rancio pointing to tawny. Revealed as muscat,  the wine itself was excellent, and a nice piece of Barossa history.

90 points, drink now.

2003 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port
A devastatingly hot year in Europe, but most Port producers declared the vintage. Cork – or storage- struck; the bottle I sampled was strong, powerful in colour, but the flavour impact was tertiary mixed mocha and coffee grounds; and the wine looked plain, young, raw and lacking finesse. A hasty look at remnants from another two bottles opened showed more expected fruit flavours of violets and dark cherry, but time and the amount left conspired against further contemplation

Not rated, but I will have other opportunities!

Random recent drinking

2010 Ch La Tour blanche 14% (sauternes)
80% Semillon, 15% Sav Blanc, 5% Muscadelle, 130 g/l rs
A chateau that overdelivers on bang-for buck, there is stonefruit, barley-sugar, just-ripe apricot and cumquat. Oak plays in the background and this is delicious.
93 points, and irresistible to 2025, or longer.

2007 Joh Jos Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese AP29,  7.5%
Ripe red apple, petroleum, minerals.Crunchy, some fruit rind notes too on the palate, bracing, lovely tingly, pebbly drive.
The 2007 Mosel Rieslings have emerged from their shell and are providing rewarding hedonistic drinking
92 points, and drink to 2030 or beyond

2004 Ch Climens 13.5%, (Barsac)
Glue smells accompany apricot cream and almond. Very sweet, but with a some bitterness too. It had the misfortune to be contrasted with the next wine, and while this half-bottle was eminently drinkable,
86 points. Perhaps an underperforming bottle.

2005 Ch Doisy-daene 14% (Barsac)
Another VFM producer, and the wine shows nutmeg and cinnamon spices, pineapple and vanilla. Classic palate length, with sweetness and acidity just right.
93 points, and drink to 2028.

2005 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (AP 03 07) 7%

IMAG0812

The wizened cork has nevertheless done its duty, but I hope my remaining bottle will be preserved for at least another 5 years.

The wines of JJ Prum are easily available in Australia; the Wehlener Sonnenuhr is my “go-to” vineyard, and the Auslese level hits my personal “sweet spot” of complexity and affordability. But the JJ Prum wines- like so many Mosel Rieslings – reward cellaring. 2005 was an exceptional vintage in the Mosel.

The colour of this Mosel wine is a bright clear light lemon; there are enticing scents of ripe red apple, dried pear, lemon, smoke, petroleum, stones and a twist of ginger. The palate is rich, clean and overwhelmingly pretty; it’s viscous with natural acidity that is refreshing, and insists that further tasting is mandatory. My guess was around 90 g/l of residual sugar, but beautifully integrated. The palate shows white honey,  red apple, some emerging lime, and of course flint. A wine that is easily approachable, enjoyable and complex.

Drink to at least 2035 , and 95 points for now – with enormous prospects for improvement in the future.

2002 JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Eiswein 7.5%

Weingut Joh Jos Prum is one of the most renowned Mosel estates. Stephan Reinhardt’s comments about drinking JJ Prum “ is to enjoy a springtime of the heart and mind…a combination of lightness, finesse, elegance and (most of all) energy…these are gracious, charming wines”. JJ Prum wines can be a bit sulky at initially; sometimes a bit reductive.  Time, and a decant work wonders. Their longevity is extraordinary.

Eiswein is the legally-defined term that refers to a non-chaptalized wine made from grapes picked with at least 110-128° Oechsle (the minimum level depends on the region and the grape variety) at a temperature below -7°C and which has also passed a sensorial test by the authorities. Eiswein is a sweet to noble-sweet wine, with >130 g/l of residual sugar. Botrytis plays no part in the style – it is just essence of Riesling. Occasionally the harvest can extend into the “next” calendar year, but the wine is labelled as the previous year. Eiswein is uncommon, tantalising and expensive.

IMAG0002

This wine is still a pale lemon colour; the enduring mystery is how such a myriad of flavours is contained in a low-alcohol wine. There are “spinal-tap-esque” exaggerated florals; mixed tropical fruits and candle-wax, lemon essence and lime “run-off”. Then a rush of ripe red apple, and nutmeg spices. So dense, and the pure stony flavours persist for minutes, dwindling to some stonefruits and perhaps light apricot.  Eiswein is indeed rare, and the residual sugar in this wine is not known – 200 g/l? but the acidity carries this with aplomb. Fabulous.

Drink to 2040, and 98 points

Mosel musings

Its not easy to take notes when on holidays, and with limited access to the internet. A few thoughts follow. Photos may be added later.

There are dozens of wineries in Bernkastel, and hundreds in the surrounding areas. Most are small, so the wines are not exported. Insider knowledge is needed to determine makers of decent wines. And the larger wineries may make more than 50 different wines each year, so what is available to taste and for sale can cover multiple vintages, sites, levels of quality; and it is certainly not feasible to try every possible wine, so we relied on the abilities of the hosts to take us through a range of wines. Further, although English was spoken everywhere we went (and my partner Robyn is fluent in German) there are only so many questions that can reasonably be asked, and notes scrawled in a limited time. The logistics to get any purchased wines back to Australia are awkward- I felt guilty buying so little.

The Mosel area is based around the  winding Mosel River, so it is quite a long area, with vines planted mostly on “the good side” of the river. This means the wines swap sides as the river meanders. Slopes can be death-defying, and it’s amazing how the vines can be cared for under such conditions. There are many paths suitable for cycling too.

Many wineries are only available to visit by appointment, and the car GPS was invaluable! Once opened, bottles can be safely refrigerated without degrading for at least one week (not a capability I seem to need).

The Mosel has had a dream run without poor vintages since the late 1980’s. This came to a crashing end in 2013 and 2014, vintages that winemakers described as “difficult” or worse. Buy with caution.

A special mention needs to be made of Rieslinghaus (formerly called Porn) in Bernkastel. There were >20 wines available by the glass, of varying vintages, makers etc. In addition, bottles, magnums etc were available for sale at very fair prices and covering again a range of vintages from makers such as JJ Prum, Schloss Lieser, Willi Haag and many more – plus some “auction” wines. This was an excellent resource – although we were busy revisiting wines purchased on our last trip in 2009. And this time around we wanted to try some different makers to gain a portrait of style (previous visits included MF Richter, Willi Schaefer, JJ Prum, R Haart, Dr Loosen).

A few random dinner wines -with scanty impressions included

fe riesling

2004 Trimbach Frederick Emile Riesling – We had to start with a dry wine, and one from Alsace; delightful, pale, spicy, stony, dry. Drink now – 2025, score 93

bernkastel dinner wines

2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr spatlese; this was a very hot vintage, and many wineries struggled; Prum described the wines as “sulky” and that the sites would take time to overcome the vintage vagaries – rich, mouthfilling, lush sweet tropical fruits, ready. Drink to 2020, score 90

2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr spatlese; very different! Lively acidity and more classical limes, apple and energy. Drink to 2025, score 93

2004 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett; acidity powers this wine; minerals, lively; Here we are with an older Kabinett that will endure for at least another 5 years, but can’t quibble with drinking it; drink to 2020, score 90

2007 R Haart Kreutzwingert Piesporter feinherb 12.5%; Happy to drink this, although its drying out a bit. Red berries, stonefruit, white peach, and orange bitters.  Drink now, score 87

2008 R Haart Goldtropchen Auslese; 2008 seems to be the vintage that never retreated into its shell; this is a very sweet wine where the bottle mysteriously seemed to empty rapidly. I cannot really see further improvement and am happy to drink with its now – although the wine will hold. Drink to 2023, score 91.

2010 Schloss Lieser juffer sonnenuhr spatlese.  A year of high acidity, but once again the wine had the pleasurable balance of acid, sweetness and texture. Drink to 2025, score 93