It is a good job I have got over the dream of being a winemaker. Partly because it will never happen, but mostly because it is a total bastard of a job. The vineyard this Prum Riesling is grown in is steeper than the walk back home up the hill after shopping, and doing that once a day makes me need to strip off and have a good sit down. Marching up and down the Himmelreich to flay North African vineyard workers until they picked the grapes to my exact specifications, would be so much work I’d even drink Claret to recover. “You’d soon get used to it!” you may scoff, but I don’t want to get used to it!
No, I really do not! I have just seen a photo of my chum Jeremy (the fabulously skilled winemaker) after his team won the Burgundy veterans’ touch rugby league. He is the same height as me but built like a blinking brick shit-house. Just looking at him must petrify anyone who does not already know he is lovely and I cannot imagine the difficulties he must have buying elegant, svelte suits. The point I have somewhat moved away from, is that proper vineyards tend to be on slopes and usually those slopes are frighteningly steep so as to catch as much sun as possible.
This is normally good. To grow plants at their peak of character one has to do so at what approaches the edge of their growing conditions – this is true of Pinot Noir in Burgundy and certainly so of Riesling in the Mosel. In both these cases the vines are at such extremes of their ripening conditions that the best wines are grown facing the sun; they can then catch every photon headed for them and so, relatively speaking, those vines have an easier time of it.
However, vintages like 2009 are hotter than me after climbing the hill home from shopping, The grapes in steep vineyards get even more sun than usual and, in some people’s views, they wind up getting over-ripe. This can cause low, unbalanced acidity and jammy, confected fruit flavours, if the vintage really is too hot. Whether wines have stepped over that line is a cause of much debate. Fortunately for those of you who have made it this far, Elitistreview is the home of objective judgement on wine qualities. I will tell you for certain whether this 2009 Riesling Spatlese hits the target or sails over the top, terrifying the chap next door as it pierces his garden fence. On to drinking!
Riesling Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich 2009, JJ Prum
Peachy and fleshy on the nose, most certainly, but not over the top by any means. Settled.
Indeed, it’s so classic The Editor and I found it hard to think of anything novel as we discussed it – what delight that such quality is so familiar! This exudes quality and pleasure, that fruit is gorgeously attractive and it has a wonderfully sophisticated set of slate aromas. I’m not so bothered with it anyway, but there’s hardly a hint of sulphur on this nose. Yum!
It smells as wonderfully enjoyable as it ever will. I know people go on and on about how German Riesling should be aged for eons, and I admit after a year or so they can be a bit awkward, but that is only for a short time. Most German Rieslings are at their best before the age of six, and as lively and exciting like pre-schoolers before the drag of standardised testing and the national curriculum have worn away their vivacity.
The palate is a little on the plump and buxom side, but it is no dumpy schoolgirl. Indeed, for a light white wine this has the structure of the British Museum. I found myself beginning to wonder about the acidity levels for a brief moment before my mindful skills made me aware of my stomach. Even though, moments before, I had had a spoon full of morphine to combat the screaming agony of my back and my stomach should have been as anaesthetised as an MP, it still provoked sharp pulses of pain. Good!
The acidity is just fine, then, and so is the fruit; ripe and luscious, but bright and fresh. The slate flavours add to the overall impression of harmony, as the nose suggested this is in a gigglingly enjoyable stage of development. I am sure you could age this a lot longer, but then you would miss out on the vinous equivalent to sitting on the floor, crashing toy cars in mid-air with a four year old. That is certainly the most fun I’ve had recently.