From Johann Josef to Sebastian to Manfred--and now, to Katharina--the hereditary line of Prüms at this estate is straight and strong. Why is J.J. Prüm still the most famous name in German wine after a hundred years? Partly because their light and racy wines epitomize the region, partly because they possess several incredible vineyard sites and an extraordinary percentage of ungrafted vines within them, which links them to an historic era of German winegrowing... and honestly, it's partly showbiz. Few humans alive have ever seen the cellar at J.J. Prüm, or Manfred's mysterious brother Wolfgang who toils down there. The mystery is compounded at the epic dinners that Manfred and his daughter Katharina host for visitors, during which Manfred disappears for up to 20 minutes rummaging around for the "perfect" bottle to pour, which is invariably old and invariably served blind. Who can resist such a presentation?
The 33.5 acre estate produces about 13,000 cases annually. The wines are feather-light, never over-extracted, low in alcohol, transparent as glass, and petrolly as hell in those first 15 years or so; after that, they really get going. Prüm is not tiny, they're not a thousand years old, and they're not doctrinaire about vinification; they are simply the quintessential Mosel estate and the benchmark for all German wine. Amen.
Wehlener Sonnenuhr (directly across the river from the house): pure, weathered Devon slate; quite stony. This is often considered Prüm's premier site, and the wines from here are the longest lived.
Graacher Himmelreich: very deep soils (great water maintenance); weathered Devon slate with higher clay content and pockets of blue slate. Wines are usually approachable sooner than Sonnenuhr.
Zeltinger Sonnenuhr: Prüm owns the filet parcel here, adjacent to Wehlener Sonnenuhr. Delicate wines; insiders' choice.
Bernkasteler Badstube: "Our Saar vineyard," the Prüms call it.; weathered Devon slate, with blue slate and traces of loam. Salty, subtle wines.
A bit of history about JJPrum: www.pruemwein.de
The producers website: www.jjpruem.com