Joh. Jos. Prüm, Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Eiswein 1998

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No account of the estates of the Mosel would be complete without an account of Joh. Jos. (often referred to more simply as J-J) Prm, which is without doubt a leader in the region, and thus in all Germany. Although the Prm family were well established as viticulturists and winemakers, having been tending vines along the banks of the Mosel since the 17th Century, the Joh. Jos. Prm estate only came into being in 1911, when the family vineyards were divided into two. The original estate, which owed much of its existence to Sebastien Alois Prm, was divided between two grandchildren, and the share taken by Johann Josef Prm is the one that interests us here. The other portion of the estate still exists today, under the name of SA Prm. Following its genesis with Johann Josef as curator, the estate was then tended by his son Sebastien Prm and subsequently by the current incumbent, the next generation, Dr Manfred Prm, who took control in 1969. All three have been responsible in their own way for building up and consolidating the reputation of the estate to the level that it possesses today. The Joh. Jos. Prm portfolio includes a number of truly illustrious vineyards, but it is undoubtedly the vines in the Sonnenuhr (sundial) vineyard on the opposite bank to the town of Wehlen that produce the most iconic wines, and are most readily associated with the estate. The stones underfoot here are typically a blue-grey slate, like many of the vineyards along the Mosel it is precipitously steep, and it is also particularly rugged, with the vines running around crags of bare rock in places. From this vineyard come wines that near perfection if there is such a thing, across all levels of the Prdikat, although it is the Auslesen that stupefy most, especially when looking beyond the standard (but still fabulous) bottling to the Gold and Long Gold Kapsel (often abbreviated to GK and LGK) bottlings, superior selections which serve not to increase the texture and weight, but provide instead greater purity, focus and precision. Typified by gold capsules with a single white stripe for the former (as below), a double white stripe for the latter, these wines were once labelled as Feinste Auslese or Hochfeine Auslese prior to the new wine laws of 1971, when such terminology was outlawed. It is these wines, more than any others, on which this estate has built its grand reputation. There are other vineyards of course, including Graacher Himmelreich, an excellent site in its own right but here, without doubt, playing second fiddle to Wehlener Sonnenuhr. A little further upstream there are also vines in the Badstube vineyard in Bernkastel, whilst downstream there are some in the other Sonnenuhr vineyard, in Zeltingen.

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