As you know, I think wine reviews should be more than just tasting notes and scores. They should be the stories of the people and the places behind the wines. While the people quite often bring the most life to the story of a wine, sometimes the place, even the vineyard itself, can be the most prominent character in the drama.
In the case of this wine, the story consists of the inextricable link between a family and a vineyard. By most accounts, the Prüm family has owned vineyards in and around the town of Wehlen in Germany’s Mosel river valley since the early 12th century, and they have lived in the area even longer. I’m not entirely sure when the Prüm name first appeared on a wine bottle, but the name became famous in conjunction with wine when in 1846 Jodocus Prüm painted a sundial on the face of a rocky outcrop in the center of a steeply sloping vineyard that would henceforth be known as the Wehlen Sundial vineyard, or Wehlener Sonnenuhr.
Today such an act might be seen as anything from artistic to prankish, but in those days it was merely pragmatic – the equivalent of erecting a clock in the town square. The winegrowers of the region needed a way to keep track of time, and the steep face of the vineyard seemed as good a place as any.
Jodocus Prüm’s health began to fail in the late 1800’s and so he began to split up his lands among his seven children, several of which started their own wineries. The Prüm family is to German wine what the Hearst family is to publishing in the United States. Today there are at least seven wineries that bear the Prüm name several generations later: including J.J. Prüm, Alfred Prüm, Dr. F. Weins-Prüm, Jos. Christoffel Jr. (formerly Christoffel-Prüm), Studert-Prüm, Weingut Steffen Prüm, and S.A. Prüm. Several more Prüm intermarriages and mergers are also responsible for several more prominent names in German wine, including Dr. Loosen.
Many of these scions of Jodocus Prüm still make wine in and around Wehlen, and several continue to own portions of the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard (which at last count was parceled out into 200 different separately owned holdings).
One of the largest parcels in Wehlener Sonnenuhr is owned by the S.A Prüm estate, which has been continuously operated by descendants of Jodocus Prüm, since his eldest son Sebastian Alois Prüm began his own winery with his portion of the vineyards bequeathed by his father.
S.A. Prüm has been run for the last 33 years by Raimund Prüm, Sebastian’s grandson, and more recently Raimund’s daughter Saskia Andrea. The winery continues to produce Rieslings from their portion of the Sonnenuhr vineyard, as well as other nearby vineyards totaling about 40 acres.
Grown on the region’s decomposed blue slate soils, at incredibly steep inclines, the own-rooted (non-grafted) Riesling vines in the Wehlener Sonnenuhr average 80 years of age. The non-irrigated vines are, for all intents and purposes, grown organically, though the estate is not certified.
Grapes are meticulously hand harvested and destemmed before being gently crushed into steel tanks where they fully ferment at their own pace before being moved into 50-year-old, 1000-liter oak casks where they age until bottling.
Full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample.
Palest gold in the glass, this wine has a heady nose of candle wax, candied tangerine zest, and honeysuckle aromas. In the mouth it is soft and lovely, with less acidity than I would expect (or desire), but nice flavors of beeswax, honeysuckle, ripe pears, and hints of lychee on the finish. Almost completely dry, with a touch of sugar, it is delicate and delicious.
Chilled down, this would be a lovely wine to drink with some homemade macaroni and cheese (which I happen to be craving at the moment — go figure).
Overall Score: around 9
How Much?: $23
This wine is available for purchase on the Internet.