I like to drink Katharina Prum’s juice! Especially her ripe juice from this patch. Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2020 from JJ Prum, now made by Katharina Prum now that ‘Shouting’ Manfred Prum has been allowed to sit down and have a bloody drink after all these years on the job.
Auslese is that ripest, and therefore sweetest, of normal German wines made in the low-alcohol, sweeter-style. You can get riper juice, just be prepared to fork out a kidney for it!
The vineyard is the Sonnenuhr (sundial) in the village of Wehlen. Easy this German wine lark, innit?
2020 is a return to classical style with the wines being, after years of crazy ripeness, quite as one would hope for – ripe to a ‘T’!
Let the clichés flow as if I am a quiz show host!
Lime, grapefruit, peachy, lah lah, la la la. Light, acid, mineral do be do do.
Look, you can look up all this basic stuff by searching for Prum using the site search functionality. There is an embarrassment of riches on this site when it comes to Prum tasting notes.
None of that, today I want to concentrate on two related aspects of the palate of this Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese: its structure and how that can lead to fashionable but incorrect tasting notes.
Firstly, the structure. This palate is built from two disparate but complimentary elements.
This Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2020 has a concentrated*, deep, profound sweetness which seems to have near limitless depth to it. It is intensely powerful and coats your palate with its rich power. It is totally delicious and incredibly compelling.
Then the is the explendency of acidity and minerality. The acidity is searing and almost painful (it will hurt my sensitive stomach!), and when it hits your palate, it is like a sharp slap to the face.
This is bound up with an incredible, slate-character that adds to the acid and gives the impression that this subdivision of the palate is of an elegant, poised, but dry and severe wine.
The totality of the palate may be up for juicy, lubricious fun but, like a beautifully thin lady with massive poonts in a whalebone corset holding a tawse, you are going to work for you fun. Do not get me wrong, it undoubtedly is fun, it is just fun in the sense of the German axiom, “Every pleasure ends with a whipping”.
This brings me to my second point, fashionable tasting notes.
This combination of sweet and severe, winsome and wicked creates a bit of an odd effect when you taste it. You very definitely get these two characters displaying very clearly, and the current fashionable tasting buzzword that would describe this combination of luscious and livid as saline.
Now, if you have the misfortune to read a lot of tasting notes, you cannot help but have seen almost every bloody wine described as saline. This tweaks the massively overgrown irritation centres in my brain for two reasons.
Saline favours, name a mix of salts and water, would only rarely be appealing. If you’ve got Cannabinoid hyperemesis, for example, and you need to get fluid and electrolytes back into your body with rehydration salts – and even then, they are not all that lovely.
Furthermore, the term is massively overused and used incorrectly when actual saline wines exist. For example, the Tenerife wines of Envinate that are grown on Volcanic soil (get them here, you will not regret it), have such a rich variety of mineral salts in them from being grown of old lava flows that contain almost no organic material, that they are truly saline. If you are going to use a term, use it where it truly applies.
So, what do we call the effect of sweet and sour, the ministrations of Miss Seductive but strict? To my mind, the correct descriptor is savoury. This is a term I have used for over three decades and is a characteristic I love to find in wines.
The combination of sweet and sour, undoubtedly boosted by the umami that exists from yeast residue dissolved in the wine, is deliciously savoury, highly attractive and very pleasing.
So, there we have it. Prum Riesling Auslese Wehlener Sonnenuhr is a mixture of concentrated sweetness of depth and power allied with elegant and severe acidity and minerality, that combine in a totality that is savoury.
And it is bleeding brilliant.
From Howard Ripley.
*’Concentrated’ is a perfectly fine descriptor to use about wine. Get knotted, Freddie Mugnier!