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J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 2010
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Very creamy, rich and elegant, with luscious peach, apple compote and lemon cake flavors that feature hints of chamomile. Everything is in proportion, with notes of Key lime pie on the ethereal finish. Drink now through 2040.
Hunkered down into itself, this feels compact and firm, the combination of super ripe green fruits dovetailing perfectly with earthy soil notes. A smoky note pervades the wine, complemented by a crisp herbal note that brings freshness to it. It feels like it could last a few decades, slowly giving more with each year.
A Prum 2010 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese A.P. #17 allies ennobled richness of vanilla- and honey-tinged apple and alluring creaminess of texture to juicy vivacity of citrus; low alcohol levity; and transparency to nuances of honeysuckle and heliotrope perfume, crushed stone and brown spices. The palpably high extract here and hint of chewy fruit skin do not detract from an overriding sense of polish and buoyancy. While its at once soothing and stimulating long finish is ravishingly long, it will take time for this Auslese to reveal what is probably an advantage in nascent, nuanced complexity vis-a-vis the corresponding Bernkasteler. Time will as always be on its side, and I would not recommend seriously tucking into bottles of this for at least 12-15 years, with expectations for it to hit age 40 acting youthful. (I did not have opportunity to taste a corresponding auction cuvee, A.P. #27.)
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley. Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types, and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.
Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.
One of the most difficult yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is commonly referred to by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape.” However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. More reflective than most varieties of the land on which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality, and demands care in the vineyard and lots of attention in the winery. It is an important component of Champagne and the only variety permitted in red Burgundy. Pinot Noir enjoys immense popularity internationally, most notably in Oregon, California, and New Zealand.
In the Glass
Pinot Noir Is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and lively acidity. It ranges in body from very light to the heavier side of medium, typically landing somewhere in the middle—giving it extensive possibilities for food pairing. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount), it can develop hauntingly beautiful characteristics of fresh earth, autumn leaves, and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon, ocean trout, and tuna. Its mild mannered tannins don’t fight with spicy food, and give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry—chicken, quail, and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, it can even match with heavier fare. Pinot Noir is also very vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
Pinot Noir is dangerously drinkable, highly addictive, and has a bad habit of emptying the wallet. Look for affordable but still delicious examples from Germany (as Spätburgunder), Italy (as Pinot Nero), Chile, New Zealand, and France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions.