J.J. Prum: A study in 2001 Spatlesen

Over the past few weeks I have checked in some of my Prum 2001’s. I went to Dovetail restaurant on the UWS and the meal was horrible. I had halibut that was hard as a brick and oxtail I needed a chainsaw to cut through, plus it was all salty. So glad I brought my own. I brought the 2001 J.J. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese and thank god I did as that was about the only decent thing served to me, and I brought it! The wine was sublime. No sulfur, old barrel or yeast aromas. Just pure Mosel goodness. Slate and nice green-like fruit. Incredibly aromatic. The palate’s first impression was ACID! Soon though the pieces came into place and this wine was classic Graach. Rocky and mineral with wonderful elegant finesse and perfect almost surreal balance. A touch of petrol on the nose began to come through but this was just starting to get into secondary land. In five more years it might be fully secondary. Graacher Himelreich from Prum I prefer in it’s youth because it is accessible and also the wine that this vineyard yields, for me, performs better in its youth. Especially at Prum, but also at Schaefer and F. Weins Prum. The wine had a crunchy minerality and crunchy acid which is a result of Graach and a result of 2001. 2001 was the last vintage where you got true, real deal acidity. Bright, crunchy, tasty and attacks your mouth like a young Muscadet. No need to rush on this but think it is in an ideal place right now and even the Prums say the Graach is better young and that is where they prefer to drink it. It can age, but why as I find after a certain point it dulls and you dont get the energy you do when the wine is less than 15 years old.

I recently dined at a killer Korean restaurant in Littleneck called, well I don’t remember, but it was fantastic. I brought a 2001 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese and it was very good yet very different than the Graacher Himmelreich. Creamy as Wehlener always is with a good acid backbone but it did not seem to get to the place yet where I like my WS Spatlese to be texturally. It demands at least 20-30 years of age to get there and longer for the Auslese. It had incredible balance but did not have that spherical quality you get on the palate with really great WS from Prum. It killed with all the food and had nice fruit, that was still all primary, no hint of petrol at all. The structure was impressive, as in 2001, even the small wines and QBA’s had incredible structure. There was something missing and that will arrive, but only with age. A lovely wine but if you have any, hold off for ten more years.

I know exactly what you mean. My epiphany Riesling was the 2001 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett. Probably more of a Spatlese, that wine is so zingy and crazy and complex to this day. I bought 14 of these at an average price of $19, and it remains a pinnacle wine. 8 down and 6 to go. Never fails to thrill me so far.

I see 2001 in Germany, particularly the Mosel, as 1981 is viewed in Bordeaux. The last classic vintages for each region.

I have no more '01 Kabinetts from Prum, but many Spatlesen and Auslesen. Last kabinett I had was '04 GH and it was lovely. That is a vintage in the Mosel that is coming into fine form. It is close to '01 in acid structure, but that’s about it.

2008 is in a similar style. Classic is back! (At least until next vintage…)

Why don’t you consider 07 classic? With the extremely long, even growing season, they struck me as archetypical.


I like '07 but all the hype about true “Kabinetts” was hype. Even Spatlese were riper than I like. The vintage fattened up over time and the acids just did not have that clarity I look for to define a vintage as classic. '07 is exceptional but not classic like say a 2001, 1971 or 1975. I put 2007 in a group with '76 and '90 which are exceptional vintages, but have a distinct character to them that stands out. Ultimately that thing, whatever it may be (HUGE acidity ('96) NO acidity ('03), or huge fruit, touch too much botrytis, but adequate acidity ('05) comes down to the individual taster’s preference. For me classic is perfect harmony with no part sticking out. In '07 the fruit was too much at many of the lower pradikat levels and the wines became fatter and tilted towards that and have not budged since. '01, a vintage I love and have drank a lot of, has retained that crisp, insane, vivid acidity since the moment I started tasting them. '05 is exceptional but not classic as the acid is not there. Acid is the key to it all in German wine.

08 has some tasty Kabinetts that are classic Kabinetts. I will say that.

Lyle, you broke me down. I cracked a 2001 JJ Prum GH Spatlese. Mine has a little sulphur, but man it is pretty juice, such a nervous and wonderful balance between green apple and slate.

Thanks for the touchstones, Lyle and Eric. Sleep, sleep

Weird there was sulphur. But JJ Prum and sulphur is very unpredictable. Certain vintages show more and Prum bottles many different “batches.”

Weird - sounds like their profiles have completely flipped from what they were showing back circa early 2003 [upon first release].

But I can imagine that that 2001 Himmelreich would have been best young.

PS: What is “oxtail”?

Please tell me that it’s not what the word looks like it might mean.

Have you never had braised oxtail? Incredible stuff. Deep flavor and remarkable texture.

This is the tail of a hooved beast that we’re talking about here?

As in “the long hairy swatting thingamabob which protrudes from its hindquarters”?

I’ve never been bothered by Prum (or anyone else’s) sulfur. For me it always blows off in the first 10 minutes after opening.

Yes, the portion above the asshole. Is that really an issue? http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-oxtail.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Lyle - I’ve been slurping on the 01 Weins Prum G-D Spatlese over last few nights that you suggested maybe a dozen years ago. It’s still fabulous, and full of verve, so good on a hot Western evening. I’ve loved the brightness in this vintage.

thread drift, but in 2014 the 2005 Prum GH spatlese showed an off the charts density to last for years, but I wished for a bit more acid to support the material.

How did you guys feel about 2010, which wasn’t released when this thread began. Or 2012?

Both '10 & '12 have more than recent normal acidity. I prefer the balance of '12, as it reminds me a little of 2001.

I’m with you on the '12s. I thought the acid in the '10s would strip the enamel off my teeth.

I felt that way about many when they were released. Some have calmed down a bit.