The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 59 of 124

{ }  59 A view of the Prüm vineyards on slopes above the Mosel. renaming it S. A. Prüm in 1911. Sebastian would also become one of the founding members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats), an association of quality-minded producers that now includes over 200 of the top wine estates in Germany. Today, the S. A. Prüm winery owns more than 35 acres located within some of the most prized vineyards in the Mittel Mosel, primarily in the villages of Wehlen, Graach, Bernkastel and Ürzig. Sebastian's grandson, Raimund, has guided the S. A. Prüm estate for the last 45 years. The forward-looking, ever restless Raimund has been at the forefront of numerous trends in the Mosel, among them stainless steel fermentation, pro - ducing dry wines, using screwcap closures and implementing organic farming practices. One of Raimund's first priorities when he started running the winery in 1971 was reducing yields almost in half, from 80–100 hl/ha to 50–60 hl/ha. But it is Raimund's understanding and appre - ciation of his vineyards that are a key factor in the success of these wines. "Our Himmelreich vineyards are close to Bernkastel on very steep hill sites. They are predominantly blue slate with underlined grey slate soils but have significant underground water that gives spiciness and freshness to the wines. Bright acidity as well, crisp with a long finish. The blue slate gives Himmelreich broader shoulders as opposed to the very racy, elegant character of Dompropst, also from a very steep vineyard with grey slate soils that produces outstanding wine in great vintages." S. A. Prüm's ten acres of vines in the renowned Sonnenuhr vineyard in Wehlen are among the oldest in the area, reaching 125 years of age. Predominantly surrounding the famed sundial (Sonnenuhr) in the upper portion of the vineyard, these old vines combined with the grey, Devonian slate soils that they live in, pro - duce incredibly long lived, elegant, distinctive Rieslings. Raimund feels these vines are ideal for producing dry Riesling and specifi- cally Grosses Gewächs Riesling. As defined by the VDP, Grosse Gewächs is the peak of the pyramid in German wines, the finest parcels narrowly demarcated from within the very best vineyard sites (designated Grosse Lage). Their maximum yield is 50hl/ha and the grapes must be harvested by hand. Sugar content has to be at least at Spätlese level and then fermented dry. Although he acknowledges that understanding GG wines is a long term prospect, Raimund feels that the minerality from terroir as opposed to fruitiness, the ageability of these wines and their food affinities make them well worth the wait for sommelier and consumer awareness and appreciation. The winemaking processes involved in the Grosses Gewächs wines is further evidence of the S. A. Prüm quality and style. Ambient yeast–fermented with an initial skin contact of 12–18 hours, the GG wines are kept in contact with their lees for over a year and then moved into large 50- to 60-year-old barrels where they will further mature for another two years. These wines are destined for long term aging. Raimund's daughter Saskia has recently taken over as General Manager of S. A. Prüm and works with her father on a daily basis, focusing predominantly on the day to day winery activi - ties, vineyard management and winemaking operations. Her impressive resume includes working at some of Germany's top wineries, among them Bürklin-Wolf in the Pfalz and Robert Weil in the Rheingau, as well as, noted producers in Italy's Alto Adige, Austria's Burgenland and California's Napa Valley. S. A. Prüm produces 15 different wines in a variety of styles that range from their Essence Riesling to a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Grosses Gewächs "Old Vines." This broad range of styles speaks to Riesling just as passionately and profoundly as Raimund speaks about Riesling, but he's also a realist about the marketplace. Even though most wine professionals profess their love for Riesling, Raimund realizes that "understanding Riesling is something very difficult for most wine lovers and I will never give up talking about it." S. A. Prüm wines are imported by Palm Bay International.

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