2020 tastings at JJ Prüm and Schloss Lieser

As I was around for the auctions, I decided to visit my favorite Mosel wineries to taste through their 2020 offering.

First up was JJ Prüm. Always a true pleasure to taste there: the setting in the family house with view of the Wehlener Sonnenuhr is magnificent and they tend to kindly open some older bottles as well.

We went through the following:
I don’t normally make detailed notes when tasting as I really enjoy interacting with the wine makers, therefore some high level impressions:

Graacher Himmelreich is super approachable at the moment, across the Prädikatlevels. Wehlener Sonnenuhr is still brooding but has an enormous layering, will surely develop greatly!

The 2018s are drinking really well already, but the big surprise was the W-S spätlese 2016 which had abundant crème de cassis notes, which was a bit of a novelty for me but worked beautifully.

Those lucky enough to cellar 2004 Zeltinger or Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese can look forward to a phenomenal wine. The former is more approachable, the latter still has enormous potential.

Their 2020 W-S GKA was chosen as best Auslese by the Vinum magazine and they are completely sold out already, which is uncommon for this Prädikat.

I could see the Prüm team still harvesting in the W-S from the front window. They are now finally done, but 2021 was a difficult vintage with low yields due to enormous rains in spring.

Later in the week I revisited Prüm together with fellow WBer Alex, but I need his help a little bit to remind me what we drank exactly. As a teaser: when your evening starts with an ‘81 Kabinett Z-S and end with a ‘89 W-S Beerenauslese it’s memorable…

After the auctions (this morning), I visited Schloss Lieser. If you ever have a chance to go there, by all means go as the Haag family is extremely kind.

They own over 200 plots across 8 vineyards so it is a real logistical puzzle when the harvest comes in. To illustrate the commitment: during the 5 weeks of harvest Thomas worked 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and took what little sleep he got in a separate bedroom in order not to disturb his family.

Their entry levels are remarkably strong and the 2020 GGs were excellent, particularly the Goldtröpfchen one. The same vineyard was also the first among equals in Kabinett and Spätlese. Very balanced, multilayered and with a lot of long term potential. They have 8 parcels totaling 1.3 hectares in the Goldtröpfchen with different exposure, allowing for real fine tuning of the selection for each bottling.

They only made an Auslese from W-S in 2020 which was very very good. The Niederberg Helden LGKA 2019 tried next had really gained in complexity since I tasted it last year, magnificent wine.

It was a real privilege when Thomas opened Niederberg Helden spätlese ‘02 and ‘03 side by side. He doesn’t have many old bottles as he explained he had to sell everything he could when starting up the winery. Both wines were beautiful. The ‘03 rich and creamy, but still with the signature laser sharpness. The ‘02 much leaner but even more profound with great salinity and slate.

The crowning jewel of the tasting was the Helden LGKA ‘97 of which only a few bottles remain. It still had the freshness and fruit of the ‘19 we drank just before but had gained so much in complexity and depth that it was as if somehow magically multiple bottles had morphed into one. And all that whilst retaining a great lightness. A true monument of a wine!

If you’ve read through this entire ramble, you must really be into Mosel wines. If ever you visit here as well: the restaurant Zeltinger Hof has a wine list of 2600 bottles, 90% Riesling covering almost every estate in Germany. I had a great ‘11 GD Spätlese from Willi Schaefer to accompany the deer steak shot by Johannes Selbach (it’s a small world in the Mosel). They also sell wines to take home and I’m now the happy owner of an Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese* ‘07 by the Merkelbach brothers.

Which reminds me: Johannes told me at the auction that took over the vinification from the Merkelbach brothers in 2020, after having done the vineyard management already from ‘18. He’ll keep everything the same, but warned me prices will go up as it is impossible for him to replace the work the brothers did by free labor.

Apologies for the lengthy rant!


Did you get a sense of what they think of the '21 fruit / eventual wines? I hear it was a difficult/bad vintage, but I’m wondering if there just won’t be as much great wine or if people think it will be pretty lousy overall (or if it’s not as bad as I heard).

I heard different perspectives across the different wine makers I spoke with. Common theme was that this a a Mosel year like they had in the 80s, so back to normal really. I think those that were meticulous in their selection will make great wines, but it will be a heterogenous vintage for sure.

Lots of disease pressure due to all the rain and significantly reduced yields.

Meulenhof mentioned they were puzzled acidity remains so high, despite grapes ripening. Schloss Lieser won’t make anything above Auslese.

The only outlier I heard was Egon Müller (not from him directly though) who apparently thinks it’s a great vintage.

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Crushed. It’s my daughter’s birth year and I wanted to buy her some Riesling, including some Auslese and stickies, and Schloss Lieser is my favorite producer. Hopefully, some other producers get some good botrytized wine.

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Apologies for the lengthy rant!

very much appreciated !

Schloss Lieser is celebrating the arrival of the first grandchild this year, so maybe they can make a special baby edition!

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Arjan - it was a real pleasure to meet with you and to get to speak with you throughout the evening. I hope it isn’t so long as the next auction that we see each other again, but if it is then I look forward to it. As for Prum, you are correct that we started with ‘81 Z-S kab. The next wine was ‘87 w-s Spatlese. Then 2009 G-H kabi, following by 2015 G-H auslese. And then was the 2001, 2002, 2003 w-s auction spat in a single flight. Then 97, 98, 99 w-s auslese flight. Then 2005 g-h GK. Then the beerenauslese that you remember.