TN: 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sohnenuhr Auslese - What happened?

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John Morris
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TN: 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sohnenuhr Auslese - What happened?

#1 Post by John Morris » January 25th, 2018, 8:51 pm

I have pretty much no experience with '03 Germans. I visited the Mosel that September and was told the heat wave that summer hadn't hit as hard there as it had in France or Italy. Going into the harvest time, the landscape was green relative to what I'd seen in England and Eastern France in the 10 days before that. But no one talked up the '03s when they were bottled the next year, and I never bothered to try them.

This was served blindly tonight. First impression on the nose: some ripe pineapple and cinnamon -- enough that several people guessed this was a Rheingau. The consensus was riesling, but from where? Very pale color, and relatively light in body. On the mouth, flabby ripe pineapple and a bit of cinnamon. Where's the acid? My kingdom for some acid backbone!

This was like Liebfraumilch. Or maybe a third-rate Spatlese or ripe Kabinett. I was shocked when it was unveiled. Sure, Prums can seem quite two-dimensional and simple when young. Sometimes they even hide their concentration. But this is 14 years after the harvest. There's no concentration, no botrytis, just sugar, no complexity.

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#2 Post by Otto Forsberg » January 25th, 2018, 10:00 pm

Sounds like a regular 2003 Riesling to me.

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TN: 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sohnenuhr Auslese - What happened?

#3 Post by Tom Reddick » January 25th, 2018, 10:28 pm

With the caveat that I was not terribly enthusiastic about the 2003s at release, I think it is too soon to know for sure what will come of them.

Prum in particular I find to go very light and simple in their "dumb phase", and in 2003 there is a whole lot of sweetness that needs time to resolve.

I am not in it for the long haul on 2003 Mosel Riesling, but if I were- I would be prepared to wait another 10 years or so to really see what could come of a top Auslese like this.
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#4 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 26th, 2018, 2:17 am

Yep give it time. That’s Manfreds advice and I trust him.

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TN: 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sohnenuhr Auslese - What happened?

#5 Post by Kirk.Grant » January 26th, 2018, 3:27 am

I've found it helpful to avoid sweeping statements when it comes to wine...but that being said, I don't have a wine from 2003 in my cellar from anywhere. I've had good wines from this vintage in the past...but not enough that I'm interested in "seeing where it goes with the 2003 vintage". The 2003 Leoville Barton comes to mind. The last time I had a bottle of that it was beautifully balanced, built to age further, and a lovely wine...but damn it was hot that year. So why risk it?
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#6 Post by Leonard Maran » January 26th, 2018, 3:43 am

Precisely my feeling Kirk. I had a couple of mags of Pavie and sold them.

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#7 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 26th, 2018, 4:01 am

Your call. There are some excellent wines from the Mosel. The Willi Schaefer Auction BA is sublime!

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#8 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 26th, 2018, 4:12 am

I had one of the 2003 Prum Auslesen (Badstube maybe...) last fall, and it was on a typical Prum path. I have not had the Wehlener since 2005, but I doubt it’s anything other than typical Prum.

I have a 2003 Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese in the queue, but won’t get to it for a few weeks.
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#9 Post by Sean Malloy » January 26th, 2018, 4:16 am

John: I haven't had the Auslese, but I've had three bottles of the JJ Prum WS Spatlese in the last few months and they were all delicious, with plenty of acid backbone. And yes, I said three bottles. Found one at retail, had it with Thanksgiving, and it was so good I went back for the other two on the shelf and brought them to Xmas dinner. I don't have a ton of experience with the 03s (or all that many middle aged Rieslings) since I'm only into Riesling over the past couple years, but the acid was there for sure and these were good bottles.

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#10 Post by John Morris » January 26th, 2018, 5:56 am

Tom Reddick wrote:With the caveat that I was not terribly enthusiastic about the 2003s at release, I think it is too soon to know for sure what will come of them.

Prum in particular I find to go very light and simple in their "dumb phase", and in 2003 there is a whole lot of sweetness that needs time to resolve.
I know that. I had a Prum WS from the mid-90s last year (can't remember the year or pradikat) that was still light in color and not giving much. And I've often found that, when young, they can show poorly in blind tastings, appearing simple. I can't think of another producer whose wines can be so deceptive for so long. But this was an extreme case. The lack of any apparent structure -- acid, botrytis -- and no complexity was just weird.

I hope you're right. Or I would if I owned any. Happily, I don't.
Russell Faulkner wrote:Yep give it time. That’s Manfreds advice and I trust him.
Specifically on the '03s? I remember tasting the '99s at the VdP tasting in 2000 and saying to him that they seemed a tad low in acid. He said it was there, just masked by the sweetness. But with the '99s, the concentration was evident from the outset.
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#11 Post by Jay Miller » January 26th, 2018, 6:03 am

I haven't had any Prum yet but the 2003s from Willi Schaefer have been showing beautifully for a while now.
Last edited by Jay Miller on January 26th, 2018, 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#12 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 26th, 2018, 6:08 am

Yes the Prum’s are keen on the sweet 2003s. Natural comparisons to 76 and maybe 59. I don’t remember the conversation too well as I was listening to it in German maybe 3 years ago.

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#13 Post by Jayson Cohen » January 26th, 2018, 8:24 am

2003 is the only vintage since 1993 in which I bought nothing (from anywhere). Schaefer did do a good job dealing with 2003 (and every other vintage for over two decades), and the 2003 Prums I’ve had were ripe but decently balanced (including this auslese) and seemed to have potential. But, like others above, happy to try, no reason to buy. If it turns out like 76 or 59 in the Mosel, then I’m the sucker, but I can live with that.

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#14 Post by Howard Cooper » January 26th, 2018, 11:33 am

I have enjoyed the 2003 Prums I have tasted. [Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese] .

My general rule of thumb in Germany is that in hot vintages (like 1989) go straight to the Saar.
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TN: 2003 JJ Prum Wehlener Sohnenuhr Auslese - What happened?

#15 Post by T Klonoski » January 26th, 2018, 11:58 am

I had this wine last year and found it delicious. It started out a bit cloying, but acid emerged midpalate to clean things up nicely. Great flavors of pineapple and pear. Good slatey finish. Wine had been stored since release at Haskell's in MN.
I wonder if there might be different AP numbers and some variation among them.
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#16 Post by Jayson Cohen » January 26th, 2018, 12:02 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:I have enjoyed the 2003 Prums I have tasted. [Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese] .

My general rule of thumb in Germany is that in hot vintages (like 1989) go straight to the Saar.
With global warming maybe the new rule of thumb should be: go straight to the Saar. Full stop. The subrule is: stop at the Ruwer en route to the Saar.

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#17 Post by Anton D » January 26th, 2018, 2:04 pm

That note is so bad, it makes me want to try it!

Perhaps I can rent Tommy Wiseau's "The Room" and try that wine at the same time.
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#18 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 26th, 2018, 2:14 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:
Howard Cooper wrote:I have enjoyed the 2003 Prums I have tasted. [Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese] .

My general rule of thumb in Germany is that in hot vintages (like 1989) go straight to the Saar.
With global warming maybe the new rule of thumb should be: go straight to the Saar. Full stop. The subrule is: stop at the Ruwer en route to the Saar.
Not even close. There have been plenty of robust acid vintages since 2003. Think 2010, 2012, 2015 at a minimum.
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#19 Post by Jayson Cohen » January 26th, 2018, 3:48 pm

You have no sense of humor. ;)

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#20 Post by Michael S. Monie » January 26th, 2018, 4:03 pm

When the 2003 Sauternes were released, a lot of people complained that they were too sweet and did not have enough acid. Everyone that I have had has been nothing short of delicious. Different strokes......
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#21 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 26th, 2018, 4:19 pm

Jayson Cohen wrote:You have no sense of humor. ;)
We are talking about German wine. German. There is no humor.
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#22 Post by GregT » January 26th, 2018, 4:20 pm

John - look to the Germans. Rule followers all the way. And STRONG rules too! Since you never have to acidify, by god the law won't allow it. Just use what you get from the land.

Unless it's really hot. Like 2003.

Then they change the rules to allow acidification.

After all, they're practical people too.
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#23 Post by Jay Miller » January 26th, 2018, 8:51 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
Jayson Cohen wrote:You have no sense of humor. ;)
We are talking about German wine. German. There is no humor.
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#24 Post by Peter Kleban » January 26th, 2018, 9:04 pm

Jay Miller wrote:
D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
Jayson Cohen wrote:You have no sense of humor. ;)
We are talking about German wine. German. There is no humor.
Funnybot begs to differ.
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#25 Post by Pierfrancesco Bini » January 27th, 2018, 12:14 am

John,

I hear you about Prum but you need to put things in context. Clearly it is not a great vintage. Clearly it is a vintage in which the vine did shut down leading to light wines with green notes and overripe flavours (a classic of super hot vintages).

That said I was present at a Dinner with Katharina Prum in which she showed a re-release of their 2003s. They were beautiful and poised. She told us that the wine virtually did not evolve for 10 years and therefore it was not included in their library releases. In the end I gambled on few Auslese and A GK (a BA in disguise and the cheapest Prum BA you will ever find). If you don't gamble on Prum (a most reliable Domaine along with the Produttori) on whom would gamble?

Of course YMMV and as usual newhere

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P.S. You may not be aware but every year you can buy old wines directly from Prum at a very cheap price. Almost every importer has that list. The 2004s ex cellar were around EUR 24.

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#26 Post by M A T T H A R T L E Y » January 27th, 2018, 8:14 am

Kirk.Grant wrote:I've found it helpful to avoid sweeping statements when it comes to wine...but that being said, I don't have a wine from 2003 in my cellar from anywhere. I've had good wines from this vintage in the past...but not enough that I'm interested in "seeing where it goes with the 2003 vintage". The 2003 Leoville Barton comes to mind. The last time I had a bottle of that it was beautifully balanced, built to age further, and a lovely wine...but damn it was hot that year. So why risk it?

My man has a point here....
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#27 Post by john stimson » January 27th, 2018, 11:00 am

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:I had one of the 2003 Prum Auslesen (Badstube maybe...) last fall, and it was on a typical Prum path. I have not had the Wehlener since 2005, but I doubt it’s anything other than typical Prum.

I have a 2003 Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese in the queue, but won’t get to it for a few weeks.
So what is the typical Prum path? I have some 01, 02, 05, 06, and a few 06 gold-cap auslesen, but don't really know what the hell i'm doing.

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#28 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 27th, 2018, 11:24 am

If you are talking Auslese, then 20 years is a really good starting point, with excellent provenance. I have been drinking some 2001s, and they are just starting to emerge from slumber, but that’s from a different cellar than mine. The wines have been treated well, but at closer to 60 degrees instead of 53-55.
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#29 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 27th, 2018, 8:41 pm

Broadly agree with David, drink within a few years of vintage or leave for 15-20. Vintage dependent.

I often ignore this advice though and am rarely disappointed.

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#30 Post by Tom Reddick » January 28th, 2018, 12:10 am

john stimson wrote:
D@vid Bu3ker wrote:I had one of the 2003 Prum Auslesen (Badstube maybe...) last fall, and it was on a typical Prum path. I have not had the Wehlener since 2005, but I doubt it’s anything other than typical Prum.

I have a 2003 Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese in the queue, but won’t get to it for a few weeks.
So what is the typical Prum path? I have some 01, 02, 05, 06, and a few 06 gold-cap auslesen, but don't really know what the hell i'm doing.
There is no real typical path. And quite frankly, given that top Mosel Riesling are not a top priority with collectors- nor priced as such- as they were for a very long time until a few decades ago- it is difficult to find guidance based in a broad array of collectors taking great care with when and how to open and air the wines. They need far more attention in this respect than even Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Where I think people go wrong is in opening and pouring far too soon. If you are opening any great Mosel Riesling with age on it, but in particular Prum, Muller or Haag, then you really need to open the wine- and perhaps double decant it- at least 5-6 hours before serving. Ideally, open in the morning if serving at dinner that night.

These wines open very slowly, and while I have on many occasions sadly watched the end of a bottle while the wine was still developing, I have never yet- not ever- had a Riesling of any age that had been well stored (my experience goes back to 1959 for the most part) from a good producer fall apart in the glass. Even in horrible vintages. I once had a 1974 Bernkasteler Doctor Spatlese (do not recall producer) that was not so hot when first opened, but came out quite nice with 2 hours of airing (not great- but nice.)

When they are young, PnP and a couple of hours of airing while you enjoy will do the trick. If you must have a general benchmark, I would say that once they are 10+ years old, you need to give them plenty of advance opening and possibly decanting. Where most wines in a dumb phase become hard, great Rieslings go very quiet- they can even seem watery. But even if you ultimately decide you opened one before its time, aeration can only give you a better result in my experience.
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#31 Post by john stimson » January 28th, 2018, 3:48 pm

thanks, folks. Useful information.

Tom--this sounds somewhat analogous to what I sometimes experience with Dauvissat Chablis. older ones can require a lot of air.

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#32 Post by Otto Forsberg » January 29th, 2018, 12:14 am

Tom Reddick wrote:
john stimson wrote:
D@vid Bu3ker wrote:I had one of the 2003 Prum Auslesen (Badstube maybe...) last fall, and it was on a typical Prum path. I have not had the Wehlener since 2005, but I doubt it’s anything other than typical Prum.

I have a 2003 Prum Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese in the queue, but won’t get to it for a few weeks.
So what is the typical Prum path? I have some 01, 02, 05, 06, and a few 06 gold-cap auslesen, but don't really know what the hell i'm doing.
There is no real typical path. And quite frankly, given that top Mosel Riesling are not a top priority with collectors- nor priced as such- as they were for a very long time until a few decades ago- it is difficult to find guidance based in a broad array of collectors taking great care with when and how to open and air the wines. They need far more attention in this respect than even Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Where I think people go wrong is in opening and pouring far too soon. If you are opening any great Mosel Riesling with age on it, but in particular Prum, Muller or Haag, then you really need to open the wine- and perhaps double decant it- at least 5-6 hours before serving. Ideally, open in the morning if serving at dinner that night.

These wines open very slowly, and while I have on many occasions sadly watched the end of a bottle while the wine was still developing, I have never yet- not ever- had a Riesling of any age that had been well stored (my experience goes back to 1959 for the most part) from a good producer fall apart in the glass. Even in horrible vintages. I once had a 1974 Bernkasteler Doctor Spatlese (do not recall producer) that was not so hot when first opened, but came out quite nice with 2 hours of airing (not great- but nice.)

When they are young, PnP and a couple of hours of airing while you enjoy will do the trick. If you must have a general benchmark, I would say that once they are 10+ years old, you need to give them plenty of advance opening and possibly decanting. Where most wines in a dumb phase become hard, great Rieslings go very quiet- they can even seem watery. But even if you ultimately decide you opened one before its time, aeration can only give you a better result in my experience.
Seconded. I had a Mosel Riesling tasting just this weekend and I double decanted all the 12 wines at 11 am, full 8 hours before the tasting. Only one wine seemed to perform worse in the tasting than during the decant - it was a rather modest-acid 2003 Spätlese that had a rather dried-out and crumbly cork.

All the other wines performed wonderfully and both JJ Prüms (a 2012 Kabinett and a 2009 Spätlese) felt not just too young, but the 2009 also felt like it could've used at least 12 more hours of air, based on how reductive and closed it still was at the tasting.

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#33 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » January 29th, 2018, 7:04 am

I, too, was underwhelmed the one time I had the '03 Prum WS Auslese. Rated it 88 points, and expressed hope that it was in a weird stage of its evolution. It was very light and boring for a Prum, let alone their WS Auslese.

Similarly, I have been *massively* disappointed by their '03 WS Spatlese --- very watery and boring.
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#34 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 29th, 2018, 7:21 am

Out of interest I looked up the MFW reviews and noticed there are three different releases of the wine in the OP (plus an auction version). Consistently good reviews.

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#35 Post by Pierfrancesco Bini » January 29th, 2018, 8:39 am

Russell,

as you may well be aware MFW is like Burghound. You need to read through the lines. Everything with them it is always at least good or very good. They are nice guys but not really a publication a la John Gilman (voicing a strong opinion).

There is no harm in waiting 5 more years.

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#36 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 29th, 2018, 8:49 am

I am and I do. Their reviews are good.

Interestingly they advise not to drink the auction wine for a further 25 years from today, and drink up in 55 years from today.

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#37 Post by Nathan V. » January 29th, 2018, 12:08 pm

I had a 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese on the recommendation of the sommelier in December that was outstanding. It showed a freshness and vivacity that I would not have expected from 2003, not even from Prum. While it won't make anyone forget great vintages, it was reasonable on the list and a great match to the food and a nice surprise.
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#38 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 29th, 2018, 1:25 pm

Pierfrancesco Bini wrote:Russell,

as you may well be aware MFW is like Burghound. You need to read through the lines. Everything with them it is always at least good or very good. They are nice guys but not really a publication a la John Gilman (voicing a strong opinion).

There is no harm in waiting 5 more years.

PF.
FYI, Gilman was pretty positive on the Somnenuhr Auslese. 94. So there goes that argument.
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#39 Post by Pierfrancesco Bini » January 30th, 2018, 3:46 am

David,

I meant that with Gilman you can rely on his reviews (as long as you know his palate) whilst on MFW they brand everything likable which, frankly, is close to no use to a wine lover.

I am aware that John is positive on Prum's 2003.

Regards

PF.

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#40 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 30th, 2018, 3:49 am

I find MFW useful. I guess I’m not a wine lover.

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#41 Post by Pierfrancesco Bini » January 30th, 2018, 4:18 am

Russell,

I would prefer to understand their preferences with respect to style and I would like to see some discrimination with ratings. A case in point it has been Schloss Lieser 2016s line up which has been underwhelming in many of the new vineyards. I guess you were at the Auctions and probably not moved by the Doctor Spatlese (vis a vis peers and vis a vis previous Lieser auction wines). I would like to read that from a pro...

Just my 0.02c.

PF.

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#42 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 30th, 2018, 6:30 am

Seems like someone has an axe to grind.
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#43 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 30th, 2018, 8:55 am

I thought Liesers Doctor Spatlese was one of the wines of the auction. As did my party including one of (or the) UKs largest importers.

I don’t know your point really, MFW is a free newsletter. Yes there is a score compression, yes I know Jean and David so am both biased, and familiar with their tastes.

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