J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2018


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“Heady scents of honeysuckle and heliotrope mingle with apple, quince and Persian melon. Succulent fruitiness and wafting perfume are complemented by a creamy feel on the delicate palate. Subtle nuttiness and discreet fruit seed piquancy serve for stimulating counterpoint, leading into a lusciously lingering, slate-lined finish. The exuberantly juicy, vibrant, bell-clear finish offers a lightly shimmering suggestion of fruit/stone interplay. At any given Prädikat level, the Prüms’ offering from the Wehlener Sonnenuhr – while in the long run often “best of show” – can frequently prove less expressive in its first year, but such is definitely not the case here! Drink: 2019-2040. 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.”

David Schildknecht, Vinous (08/20)