2016 Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese
Wine Details for 2016 Joh. Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese
|Type of Wine||
: German Riesling, grown along the Rhine, is one of the most famous white grape varieties worldwide. Winemakers rarely blend this highly acidic varietal with other grapes. A bit behind Riesling, Muller-Thurgau is another popular varietal in Germany, obtained from a crossing of Riesling and Silvaner. Silvaner is the third-most cultivated white varietal in Germany.
: It has been 587 years since the official “birth” of Riesling, the Noble grape variety of Germany. In that time, this white grape has seen exponential growth and popularity worldwide. Riesling has traveled beyond the Rhine River, where it is thought to have originated, spreading throughout Germany, Austria and Alsace, Australia, New Zealand and California. New World adaptations may have helped bring the varietal into the global spotlight, but its ancestral home and greatest reflection of terroir remains in Germany.
As aforementioned, the first recorded mention of the varietal appeared in the 1435 sale of several Riesling vines to German Count, John IV of Katzenelnbogen. Prior this transaction, the history of Riesling remains unclear, other than it first inhabiting the Rhine River region, which runs throughout parts of Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. In 1998, scientists in Austria, using DNA technology, were able to determine that Riesling is the progeny of Heunisch Weiss, otherwise known as Gouais Blanc. Said to be a commoner among superior grape varietals, Gouais Blanc is ancient, originated in Germany and has sired some of the greatest varietals in the world, including Chardonnay, Semillon, Gamay noir, Melon and Aligote.
The small, round white-green berries of Riesling turn a pretty gold color, often with lenticels (pore-like structures, resembling freckles) when ripe. Vines can vary significantly from weak to moderately vigorous depending on the climatic region, soil characteristics and moisture availability. They are adaptable to a wide range of soil types making it quite dynamic and versatile.
One of Riesling’s most unique and celebrated qualities is its vibrant expression of terroir. This “sense of place” enables the particular elements of the soil and microclimate to be uniquely expressed through the wine itself, allowing this globetrotting varietal to flourish in similar winegrowing conditions around the world. Riesling has found success and popularity in California and the Finger Lakes of New York, Australia, New Zealand, France, Hungary and South Africa. However, it reaches its true zenith in the Rhine River Valley.
Mosel, Pfalz and Rheingau are the key winegrowing locations in Germany, where the climates are cool with low average temperatures and with the bulk of rainfall occurring during the summer. The vines of Riesling thrive here, in heat-retaining, stony soils on steep, south-facing slopes along the river valleys where they find optimal sunlight and natural growing conditions. Austria and Alsace (France) share similar climatic influences and terroir due to the proximity of the Rhine River. Their winegrowing industries have been greatly impacted by the Riesling grape varietal.
The commonly misunderstood Riesling grape varietal produces wines that are quite austere when young, making many wine drinkers wary of them. A fine Riesling almost demands time in the bottle. In good vintages, Riesling can last several decades and rival the finest whites in the world. At a glimpse Riesling may seem simple, but is actually rather complex. Riesling can be harvested early or late, vinified in many ways and can range from dry to very sweet. The five types of Riesling are Kabinett (bone dry to off-dry) Spatlese (sweet) Auslese (sweeter) Beerenauslese (very sweet) Trockenbeerenauslese (sweetest). Thanks to its naturally high acidity, it is a supremely agreeable drinker that will please just about any palate. From tingly-dry, steely-lemon to refreshingly green apple, peach, pear and grapefruit to honeyed and luscious apricot; the myriad of flavor profiles of Riesling is impressive.
The Noble Riesling grape may be complex, might be misunderstood and may be more obscure than other white varietals, but is one that produces some of the most fascinating, multifaceted and unique wines in the world.
: Germany has a long and illustrious history of winemaking, dating back to the time of the ancient Romans. Its rich viticultural past began with the establishment of the country’s first vineyards along the banks of the Mosel, near what is now the town of Trier. By the third century AD, most of the neighboring valleys and areas cut by the Mosel River and its tributaries were being cultivated to wine grapes. Today, this tradition remains, assembling not only a long tradition of viticulture, but one that is globally recognized for its signature grape, Riesling.
Though the German wine industry is most famous for its world-class Riesling produced in the Rhine River Valley, the country is also known for Gewurztraminer, Muller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris. These wines are not only considered some of the greatest examples of said varietals, but also considered some of the greatest whites in the world. In fact, by the 19th Century, Rhine wines were selling for prices above those of the famous first-growth of Bordeaux.
The incredibly diverse and precipitous German landscape is one of the most northerly wine regions in Europe, making it one of the largest producers of “cool climate” varietals. The Jet Stream helps temper the cooler weather, making it possible for viticulture. Mosel, Pfalz and Rheingau are the key winegrowing locations in Germany, where the climates are cool with low average temperatures and with the bulk of rainfall occurring during the summer. The vines of Riesling thrive here, in heat-retaining, stony soils on steep, south-facing slopes along the river valleys where they find optimal sunlight and natural growing conditions. Austria and Alsace (France) share similar climatic influences and terroir due to the proximity of the Rhine River.
One of Riesling’s most unique and celebrated qualities is its vibrant expression of terroir. This “sense of place” enables the particular elements of the soil and microclimate to be uniquely expressed through the wine itself, allowing this globetrotting varietal to flourish in similar winegrowing conditions around the world. However, it reaches its true zenith in the Rhine River Valley.
In more recent years, an influx of regions within Germany have begun producing varieties such as Pinot Noir (known as Spatburgunder in Germany), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. German producers are becoming increasingly convincing that they are able to produce great wine from other varieties. For example: German Spatburgunder is now emerging from various regions, particularly Baden, Pfalz and even the tiny Ahr Valley.
Germany boasts 103,000 hectares under vine, with an annual wine output of 10 million hectoliters. The exact numbers have fluctuated over the past five years, but the country has been able to remain in the top ten, as well as the leading exporter of Riesling. Germany is one of the most prominent wine producing countries in the world, with white wine accounting for two-thirds of its production.
: Germany is one of those places that have the longest spanning affinity for quality wines and the most profound relationship with the art of producing it. For, in Germany, due to its northernmost position and challenging conditions, viticulture is truly a craft. Picture rivers decisively cutting through proud, soaring mountains, the clearest air you've ever breathed as you gaze upon the sun-kissed sides of these staggering giants. Right alongside the outlined edges, hundreds of small vineyards seem to defy gravity, all facing the light, soaking in whatever warmth they can get. Their position is so specific and hard to reach that all of the work around them is done manually. Every step of this noble craft is done by man, in this day in age where the automatised industry has taken over. The sweet, fruity, wonderfully fragrant white wines are as crisp, acidic and elegant as one would imagine upon visiting their birthplace. Mostly made from Riesling, these magnificent elixirs perfectly illustrate the hard work, dedication and intimacy cultivated at these miraculous sites.
More recently developed but equally as valued in Germany are the Pinot Noir-based reds, some of the most sophisticated and well-balanced wines one could taste. A taste of German winemaking should be found bottled and stored inside any sommelier's cellar.
|Producer||Joh. Jos. Prum|
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95 RP
Juicy but super elegant and refined with great mineral freshness, making this an extremely attractive wine. And yes, this has some sweetness but you’d hardly think so. Where are those spicy prawns? Drink or hold.
James Suckling | 94 JS
The 2016 AP #8 Spätlese from the Himmelreich is a classic example of this great terroir in the making. This is less shut down than the Badstube at the present time, and though it is still a young wine, its fine detail is already very much apparent. The bouquet jumps from the glass in a superb blend of pear, a touch of white cherry, slate, violets, bee pollen and a lovely topnote of wild yeasts. On the palate the wine is pure, medium-full and already beautifully filigreed, with a good core, dancing backend balance and a very long, zesty and nascently complex finish. In my experience, it is quite rare that a young Himmelreich Spätlese from the Prüm family will be so expressive early, and I think this speaks well of its future elegance and refinement at maturity. Lovely juice. 2025-2060.
John Gilman | 94 JG
Despite a faintly cheesy, reductive “Mosel stink,” fresh apple and pineapple project a penetratingly fragrant as well as tangy personality to this polished, glossy, buoyant bottling. For now, it lacks the clarity, precision or interest of the corresponding Kabinett, but it’s obviously early days, especially in consideration of the glacial pace at which Prüm wines often evolve. Certainly, though, there is admirable and refreshing sheer length.
Vinous Media | 91 VM