April 11, 2008

1976 Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted any new blogs and there’s a few reasons for this #1 being that I haven’t been drinking any alcohol for about a month. Thinking of which wine I wanted to crack open to get back in the saddle, a few crossed my mind…

’82 La Lagune? 94 Montelena ? Tempting, but no… ’76 JJ Prum? Hmmmm. To be honest, I do not drink a ton of white wine, so I figured why not pop this open? I recently acquired a number of older wines and this happened to be one I have multiples of. I must say, there’s something very special about aged Riesling, and this wine just cemented that fact for me. All the usual descriptors ran through my head: Ethereal, elegant, complex… My bank account will surely thank me for even more wine purchases I now have my eye on. C’est la vie.

First, a little background on Mr. Johann Josef Prum and these wines. When you hear the topic of a wine conversation turn to Riesling, the Prum estate is a name that’s bound to come up. This family has been making wine for many years, harvesting grapes along the Mosel as far back as the 17th century. Started by Johann and currently run by Dr. Manfred Prum, the estate owns roughly 34 acres of vineyards planted almost exclusively to Riesling. Located upon the steep and rugged banks of the Mosel, two of the more famous vineyards in the estate are Wehlener Sonnenuhr and Graacher Himmelreich, two vineyards that thrive in the mountainous clay-slate soils and are known for producing wines of astonishing quality.

1976 was a good year. Fleetwood Mac recorded “Rumours,” The Eagles released “Hotel California,” and lots of great Auslese wines were made. This was a year hailed by many in Germany as “vintage of the century.” I don’t think that’s the case, but there were some ridiculous sugar levels in the grapes and amazing wines were made. The quality was so high that some producers had more Trockenbeerenauslese than they knew what to do with (TBA is basically the pinnacle of sweet wine in Germany). Some of the lesser wines were marred with very low acidity making this a vintage where careful selection was key, especially for long term cellaring. As a result of the low acidity, some German wines from this year might be over the hill, although I’m sure many wines from top producers are still good and will continue to get better. If you’re not up on German Riesling, do your self a favor and pick up a handful from the 2005 vintage.

Tasting Notes:
A beautiful honeyed amber color in the glass, from beginning to end this wine is just amazing. I found the nose to be very complex and focused with aromas of apricots, green apples, spices and cream with notes of pine sap and slight petrol. Tasted blind I might guess this wine to be only a decade old. The palate is honeyed, powerful and intense with pure fruit, a slight minerality and flavors that for lack of a better word were just ethereal. It's presence in the mouth was just absurd, closing with fine acidity and a stunning finish that seemed to never end. Almost impossible to describe with words, this is one of those wine experiences that hits you like a ton of bricks and stays with you for the rest of your life. Flirting with perfection, it’s the type of wine that will turn a casual wine fan into a fanatic.