The annual JJ Prum tasting is my favourite event of the year. I try to come to the tasting without prejudice. It’s hard to resist reading what the critics are saying, or the views of other wine merchants. I’m curious, but by the same token, prior knowledge can be an encumbrance. It is all too easy for the opinions of others to become your own. How many times have I come across a wine, lauded with plaudits from eminent wine critics and found myself underwhelmed? Why don’t I love it? Is it really that good? The Prum experience is a singular pleasure and I cannot recommend these wines highly enough.
Surely, one of the hallmarks of a great producer is continuous improvement. To not rest on your laurels. The honest evaluation of your wine and what could have been done better. I loved the 2016 Prum wines, but I think the 2017 vintage will prove to be a great one for this revered producer. For me, there was just that slight uptick in layered detail, purity and mystery. Although the wines are very open and drinking beautifully, there is a great deal of mystery and pleasure for those who can resist opening them now.
The 2017 vintage is remarkable. Marked by weather events; twists and turns in temperatures and regular summer showers. Spring provided summer like conditions, which brought on early flowering. This would have been fine, if it wasn’t for a plunge in temperatures in late April, bringing with it frost. The steeper sites were less affected. To me, great sites are not just about great wines. It’s their ability to withstand the onslaught of nature and pump out that pleasure, as nature intended…
With such an early flowering and loss of buds came second generation growth. The first generation growth has gifted the 2017 Prum wines richness and extract. They are marked by beautiful acidity, folded into the wines, providing wonderfully balanced palates. Quite different from the chiseled incisiveness of the 2016 vintage.
Summer was warm and initially dry, ensuring low yields. The temperatures at night however were cool, providing the vines relief and preserving their acidity. Regular showers in August and September brought with it early botrytis. Unfortunately, many producers, including Prum, had many rotten grapes. The yields were lowered further as a huge amount of negative selection took place, before and during the harvest.
The low yields and the warm nature of the vintage have ensured the wines have dazzling fruit profiles and ripe acidity. Cool nights and the second generation growth have ensured freshness and balance with correspondingly high pH levels. The wines are creamy, supple, concentrated and rippling with energy. The weather conditions as noted were favourable for botrytis. As such, the deliantion of the Pradikat levels is more obvious this year than in 2016. A great year for the sweeter styles.
The wines listed are in order of tasting:
BRACKET ONE – 2017 KABINETT
Ripe open nose of citrus, grapefruit and yellow peach. Some earthy notes too, mushrooms. Juicy, succulent and broad palate. Exotic fruits of mandarin, orange, pink grapefruit and dragonfruit. Ripe framing acidity. This is delicious!
More discreet than the Graacher. Incredibly complex, musky nose. Rose petals, lime and dragonfruit. Rich, luscious, creamy palate. Layered and very detailed. Some tropical fruits of pineapple and guava alongside kiwifruit. Broader and seemingly softer, with the acidity folded into the wine. Incredibly beautiful and captivating. This will be a very long lived Kabinett.
BRACKET TWO – 2017 SPATLESE
Very open. Minerals, lemon and limes. Really luscious in the mouth. Rich and soft with flavours of kiwifruit, quince and orange marmalade. Absolutely gorgeous now, although will age. Drink this, waiting for the others.
Closed and reductive on the nose, but offering hints of jasmine, frangipani apricots and white peach. The palate is dripping with flavour. Soft and gentle. Lovely tensile acidity. Great drive. Fabulous, but be patient.
Next level. Floral notes of Lavender and Frangipani. Bowled over by the complexity on offer! Mandarin, grapefruit, dragonfruit, passionfruit, kiwifruit and sweet spices. Second taste, vanilla and custard too. Lovely line of acidity and immense drive. Gorgeous, unique and exotic. One of my favourites of the tasting.
Slightly closed with notes of citrus, smoke and herbs. Broader structure. Great creamy concentration of super ripe limes, mandarin, apricot, orange, oregano and thyme. So many layers of flavour and texture. Rumbling, murmuring power. Great, great spatlese.
BRACKET THREE – 2017 AUSLESE
The Auslese level at J.J. Prum does not necessarily taste sweeter – they naturally have more acidity to match the higher ripeness levels. However, they are certainly more powerful. They are too fine for very sweet desserts (although they can work with delicate, fruit-based creations.) A better match would be a range of savoury dishes such as pork, game bird or spiced meats. They also work brilliantly with savoury tarts, roast chicken, all kinds of sausages. Terrific with a wide range of cheeses. The style remains ultra-pure and ultra-fine.
Joh. Jos Prum Bernkasteler Badstube Auslese 2017 – $96 (subject to availability)
Strong lemon, lime and mineral aromatics. Incredibly pure palate of lime, kiwifruit, minerals and a faint dusting of herbs. Generous and soft with refreshing acidity.
Earthy, smoky nose with musky tones of roses, mandarin and apricot. Juicy, with beautiful acid cut. Tropical fruits, citrus and mandarin. Incredibly intense and very long. Elegant, juicy, powerful, detailed, layered and fine. One for the ages.
Musky, reductive notes. Soft, creamy palate of pineapple, guava, grapefruit, lime and kiwifruit. Very broad, classic Wehlener structure with an incredible core of fruit. That lovely acid fold. Delicacy and power. Absolutely classic Prum!
BRACKET FOUR – 2017 AUSLESE GOLDKAPSEL
Katharina Prum explains the Goldkapsel wines in this way: “Think of them as limited edition, small production lots of the best Auslese of the vintage. They are made from stronger selected grapes containing higher concentrated juice, usually affected by a certain amount of botrytis, capable of ageing even remarkably longer than regular Auslesen, lasting for many decades. In the course of time, they lose some of their sweetness, gain more and more elegance and harmony and the complex profile and depth come to the forefront”.
They can certainly work with fruit based desserts, preferably with custard. Wonderful with cheese and savoury dishes too. These wines are amongst the most versatile food wines, far more than any red wine and, come to think of it, any other white wine too! They will go with just about anything, from game to T-Bone, more so as they age.
Joh. Jos. Prum Bernkasteler Lay Auslese Goldkapsel 2017 – $227 (subject to availability)
Very aromatic, with notes of orange blossom, lemon and lime marmalade. More tightly coiled than the “standard” Auslese. Nuanced and full of tension. Lots more to come.
Extremely complex nose of earth, smoke, ginger, chamomile, frangipani, apricots, plum and yellow peach. Broad, plush and invigorating palate. Honeycomb, edible flowers, yellow peach, preserved lime and kiwifruit. Detailed and layered. Incredible freshness amongst all this sexy, ripe fruit. Folded acidity and driving length. Loving this!
Wonderfully open and exotic nose of ginger, white flowers and lavender. Awesome concentration. Pellow peach, cherries, lime marmalade and grapefruit. So much power! Juicy, structured and energetic. Everything in balance. Complete wine.
The most fragrant of the four Goldkapsels. Jasmine, roses, lychee, pineapple and orange. Broad and powerful palate of juicy orange, cherry, yellow peach, plum and pineapple. Huge, sumptuous drive. Amazing wine.
BRACKET FIVE – AUSLESE LONG GOLDKAPSEL AND 20 YEAR RELEASE
The 2017 vintage marks the first trade release of JJ Prum’s legendary Long Goldkapsel wines. Made in minuscule quantities, and only from great vintages. Up until now, these wines have only been available at the annual VDP auction held in Trier. Only a tiny amount has been released to the trade.
The wines are made with a higher degree of botrytis than the “regular” Goldkapsels The style is somewhere between the traditional Goldkapsel and Beerenauslese categories. They are however, a further selection of Goldkaps that show something extra – greater intensity, purity, concentration, precision and power. To differentiate for the the Goldkap wines, the Prum Estate marks this special release with two white stripes at the bottom of the golden capsule. The regular Goldkap has one stripe.
Slightly closed nose, with notes of orange, mandarin, yellow peach and spices. Luscious, very concentrates and tightly coiled. Honeycomb, lime marmalade, grapefruit and spice. Poise, purity and delicate with a springboard of power. Incredible and very long lived.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Long Goldkapsel 1999 – $444 (subject to availability)
Floral. Aromas of lavender honey, blackcurrant, cherries and orange blossom. Very elegant and complex. Tropical fruits and herbs. Lemon, lime, blackcurrant, apricots, cherry and fennel. Still primary despite it’s 20 years. Plenty in the tank.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr Beerenauslese 1999 – $693 (subject to availability)
Essence of Prum. Honeycomb, mandarin, orange blossom, lime, mushrooms and herbs. Soft and juicy palate of sweet spices, kiwifruit, grapefruit, white peach, dragon fruit and citrus. Broad palate and soft. Impossibly beautiful.
Prices quoted are in any six.
For wines listed as ‘subject to availability’ please enquire with us and we’ll do our best to source.