J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2018


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“Scents of quince and apple jelly are accompanied by a surprisingly greenhouse-like evocation of diverse flowers and foliage. I say “surprisingly” because many of the Prum 2018s deliver an especially heady, sweet, and often even decadent sort of floral perfume. Honeydew and Persian melons supply extremely ripe yet freshly juicy fruit that, when combined with the confitured quince and apple, make for an exceedingly luscious midpalate impression, reinforced by textural gloss and prominent but not excessive sweetness. The finish lingers impressively, reprising a welcome inner-mouth hint of flower shop. Look for this to deliver much more in future and to enjoy at least the typical ageworthiness of a Prum Wehlener Auslese, it not more. (There is also an auctioned bottling of Sonnenuhr Auslese – AP. #18 – which I did not have an opportunity to taste.). Drink: 2022-2050. 93 points

Starting the harvest just past mid-September 2018 was record-early at this estate, as at so many others. Also like many others, the Prüms reported a remarkably leisurely pace, since clement weather left them unfazed. They only finished up on October 20, with ample opportunity to make selections for nobly sweet elixirs right up to TBA, though precisely what would be declared “above” long gold capsule Auslese remained to be determined when I tasted in late November, and such wines are only released some years after bottling. Also as at so many estates, fears that the heat and drought of 2018 would result in wines resembling 2003s in their conspicuously low acidity and baked- or dried-fruit character proved unfounded. Instead, while analytically modest acidity as well as sheer ripeness conduced to a slightly stronger sense of sweetness than in some other recent vintages, even where the Prüm 2018 collection reveals a confectionary cast, this is balanced by freshness and nuanced piquancy, despite the relatively late finishing date for harvest. Relatively low acidity no doubt also contributed to the alluringly creamy textures that so many of the wines display. Moreover, in complete contrast 2003 – or, for that matter, 2005 – there is an abundance of Kabinett, and the personalities of each site tend to come through especially clearly. “We really made a changeover [Umstellung] after 2005,” observed Manfred Prüm. “Accepted wisdom was always to wait so as to harvest with maximum ripeness, but at that point we realized it isn’t always best to wait,” a realization never more applicable than in 2018. One aspect of these 2018s that is reminiscent of 2003, though, is that even at the level of gold capsule Auslese, the extreme ripeness and impressive concentration were achieved, the Prüms insisted, virtually without botrytis, which they report only came seriously into play with long gold capsule Auslese and beyond.

I was not offered an opportunity to taste those wines that were auctioned last September in Trier: a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Lange Goldkapsel, a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Goldkapsel (A.P. #19), a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese (A.P. #18) and a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese (A.P. #17). (For thoughts about this venerable estate’s recent evolution, consult especially the introductions to my coverage of their 2014s and their 2017s.)”

David Schildknecht, Vinous (08/20)