There is no escaping the commentary surrounding vintages. Knowing a bit often makes you feel like you know a lot, and enough to draw foregone conclusions. After reading various comments and articles about the 2018’s from Joh Jos Prum, I feel compelled to add to the millions of words regarding these wines. Firstly, the wines are very ‘Prum’, the individual characterisics of the vineyards laid bare. The heat and dryness of the vintage has produced some very luscious Kabinetts, many of them closer to Spatlesen in style. Indeed, this is an excellent vintage for Spatlese in particular, with juicy, curvy frames and exotic fruits jostling the more typical limes and grapefruit.
The 2018 Prum’s are soft and creamy, remarkably pure in texture, and an excellent representation of the vintage. I would go further to say that they are a display of the joys and pleasures of a uniquely hot and dry vintage. The biggest difference to me, when comparing the wines to 2016 and 2017, is structure and weight. Prum has never made wines that are ‘electric’ or tensile, along the lines of a Frtiz Haag, Zilliken or Busch. To me, they have always been soft and pure, with integrated structures that cloak their power.
I feel Australian audiences have a desire for angular structures, with prominent acidity and higher toned fruit. No wonder then that many I know list Graacher Himmelreich as their favourite. The Graacher is always a more framed wine, the Wehlener; broader, deeper and with its structural depths well hidden. The 2018’s in this respect are cliched. The Badstube the least complex and most open, the Graacher; delightfully easy to comprehend, the Wehlener is all brooding complex power and the Zeltinger Spatlese? Always a favourite for me, with its idiosyncratic fruit and textural profile. Zeltinger is always a surprise and although I have heard some describe it as less fine, it has always stood out in this line up.
The British and Europeans are touting 2018 as a great vintage, so it is curious to see the Australian market obsessing about the apparent lack of freshness and balance. Tasters have been drawing too many conclusions, before tasting the wine. The wines are soft and open, it is true, but they have always been. The distinction with Prum is their supple purity, not their raciness. In 2018, they carry the sun on their shoulders, and it is a glorious feeling. The structures are embedded, as they always are, and for once I would say they are juicy.
I don’t have a favourite. The Badstube is the most ready and least complex, and this is why I love it so much. I don’t always feel like the broad shouldered Wehlener, or the upstart confidence of Graacher. Zeltinger, as I have said, is always a favourite, with its myriad flavours and tones and feelings. In other words buy them all, for they are all wonderful and thrilling in their own right!