Glorious German Riesling. After WWII, Rieslings out of Germany fell out of favor in the U.S. market, for obvious reasons, and the market hasn’t ever quite recovered since. This should change, as Germany today is a whole new thing. After all, we have the country to thank for saving Europe’s currency and for sparing our 401Ks from going down the toilet like the Greek economy. As the face of Berlin continues to modernize fast into the 21st Century and as BMWs and Audis continue to pour into the U.S., there are no reasons to abstain from the enjoyment of German Riesling, one of the greatest pleasures—if not the greatest—in the world of white wines.
Few would argue that the greatest producer of this great German grape varietal is JOH. JOS. PRÜM. Owners and tenders of parcels of the finest vineyards in the Mosel wine region, you can literally never go wrong picking up a bottle from this weingut (winery) in any price range, from 25 dollars to over 5,000—Prum’s most prestigious bottlings are some of the most prized by collectors. This 2010 Riesling Spatlese (“Spatlese,” for all intents and purposes, is the second-highest level of ripeness of German Riesling; “Auslese” is the top if you don’t count dessert wines) comes from the Graacher Himmelreich, easily in the top three of the most revered vineyard sites for Riesling in the Mosel. And what a beauty it is. Notes of glowing, golden peach, melon, orange zest, white flowers in the spring, vanilla, yeast and wet mineral stone, it’s a sensuous journey for nose and palate. A bit of botrytis (the same noble rot that makes French Sauternes dessert wine so delectable) adds character to the wine’s sweetness, and finely focused acidity brings raciness and vivaciousness to the whole affair. And, make no mistake, when it comes to J.J. Prum Rieslings, it is a love affair.
Richard Wagner’s magnificent opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, is a passionate paean to the composer’s German homeland, and one can imagine lifting up a glass of this Graacher Himmelreich to the sweeping, triumphant chords of the opera’s famous overture. Try to make the bottle last through the entire three Acts for an exquisite Riesling experience. –J.M.
Best of Napa & Sonoma Wines: 2011-2013 Vintages