Thursday, November 8, 2007
With the soothing post-rock tones of Godspeed You! Black Emperor emanating from the Acoustic Energy sub + satellite speaker hi-fi system, I am hoping to deliver a thorough, yet entertaining report of an incredibly fun and educational vertical tasting of JJ Prum Auslesen from one of my favorite vineyards in the world, Wehlener Sonnenuhr.
First, a little background on Manfred Prum and his wines. They are truly some of the best expressions of Rieslings in the world, and as such are priced accordingly, i.e. they will probably cost more than most of the other Mosel producers in your local wine shop. They are definitely worth it. They need time though, as they are in want of bottle age to begin with, in addition to being liberally sulphured (even by German standards). My understanding is that Manfred wants his wines to last a while, and in order to assure that there are no secondary fermentations or bacterial issues in the bottle, he adds a lot of sulphur.
Thank you to Jeff Vierra for contributing many of these wines. Thanks also to the Westby's for hosting, providing some of these wines, and having sausages and potato salad on the ready to sate our appetites. We tasted 11 vintages in all, dating from 1983 to 2002. I will list each vintage with sparse tasting notes, proceeded by my ranking and the group ranking.
2002 - The nose was strongly slatey and showed intense apricot preserves. Sulphur is definitely still present. On the palate this wine was pure, pure, pure, with the intense pink grapefruit note that I love to get in Wehlener Sonnenuhr wines. Joe - #4 Group - #3
2001 - At first this wine did not reveal too much on the nose, other than sulphur. Some apricot and chamomile aromas eventually revealed themselves. I love the '01 for its very powerful, pure, extracted flavors. The wine was like ripe, pink Florida grapefruit eaten in January, with a touch of sugar added (for the record I'm not a sugar on grapefruit type of guy, but that is what the flavors brought to mind). Joe - #3 Group - #5
2000 - This was a wet vintage. The nose was a bit spicier, still slatey, and showing some persimmons. Didn't really enjoy the lack of fruit purity here, though there was some decent persistence and length. Joe - #9 Group - #10
1999 - Pretty, golden delicious, autumnal nose, with a touch of a caramelized aspect. Direct, juicy, simple apple cider type flavors. Joe - #8 Group - #8
1998 - The nose seemed slightly unclean (grey rot?) and showed some ripe banana smells as well. Similarly unfocused, unclean flavors on the palate. Joe - #10, Group - #9
1996 - This was a stunner. Candied fruits, including some red, as well as ginger and mandarin on the nose. On the palate, the amazingly clean, piercing acidity was the definining characteristic (what is it with 1996 Champagne, Mosel rieslings, and many other classic European whites, and this phenomenal acidity?!) Joe - #2 Group - #2
1995 - Others weren't as into this wine, but I loved it for its integrated acidity, intensity, and mouth-filling richness of flavors. I don't know why but it reminded me of Krug MV. Great stuff. Joe - #5 Group - #7
1994 - While the nose was a bit funky and muted, the palate showed pure fruit, with some red currant. Great acidity and silky texture. If we were going by NFL rules I'd overrule the call and rank this higher. Joe - #7 Group - #6
1993 - Unforunately, there was clearly something off with this bottle. It smelled very woodsy and eucalpytic. Kind of Bengay like. This wine finished last.
1990 - A pretty and cidery nose led to a wonderfully balanced Auslese. Sort of a blend of '95 richness and a bit of the '96 acidity. Finessed, well-defined and pretty. Joe - #6 Group - #4
1983 - Beautiful, 18K golden color. This mature Auslese showed a strong vanilla extract and cookie dough note. Someone else mentioned yellow cake batter. After a bit of time ripe pear and honey showed as well - definitely a botrytis wine. Acidity is present on the palate, but very mellow, and the fruit is similarly subtle and tough to pinpoint - the fruit is there and it is delicious. Joe - #1 Group - #1
After the tasting we had some cheese (Mahon, Roaring 40's blue and Bravo Farms sage cheddar), and Gary broke open a bottle of 1999 Joachim Hager Spatburgunder from the Baden. It was aiight. I don't have much experience with Spatburgunder; the best I've had have been August Kesseler's fancier offerings, but it has been a while since I've had them and they were quite pricey. Auslese (or even Spatlese or ripe Kabinett) and blue cheese, as some of you may already know, is a killer combo.
Mmm, mmm mmm!
It has been quite the week of fine food and drink. I hope that I don't catch a case of the gout....