Saskia Prüm holds an honored position for us at Portalis. She is the first German winemaker to do a tasting at our shop since we opened in 2003, and it was well worth the wait. She was lovely. She told me a little about the history of the winery … Located in the village of Wehlen (southwest Germany) near the one of the most famous vineyards in the Mosel Valley, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, the estate has been in her family since her great grandfather began in 1911. The estate flourished under father, who began running the estate in 1971, and as of 2005, it has been in Saskia’s hands. She said that she knew from an early age that this was her calling. With a smile, she said she had probably participated in her first wine tasting at age 9. She received a Diploma of Engineering in Winemaking from the Technical University in Geisenheim. After that she completed a series of internships in Pfalz/Reingau, Baden & Alto Adige. Her time in Alto Adige must have been particularly interesting, 1) because it was a huge 200 hector co-op compared with the 16.5 hectars of the S.A. Prüm estate and 2) she got to go hang out in Northern Italy, after all.
Americans so often have a block against white wine that’s not dry, but I can’t encourage you enough to open your experience to these wines as German Riesling is considered some of the finest white wine in the world (and S.A. Prüm is an excellent example of this style of wine). It’s a thinker’s white wine … beautiful fruit flavors with an amazing acidity that off-sets the slight ending sweetness of the wine. It’s refreshing as a stand alone sipper, but Riesling also rates as the most versatile white wine to pair with food. The acidity as well as the fact that it’s not dry allows it to pair beautifully with appetizers, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork and especially cheeses. It can also handle sweeter & spicier flavors (perfect for Asian cuisines) and the tanginess and heat of Middle Eastern & Mexican dishes.
Here’s what we tasted with Saskia, as well as her commentary on the wines:
S.A. Prüm 2007 Essence Riesling $12.50/case $10
This wine has a spiciness to the fruit which is lovely, off-set by beautiful acidity. Lighter than the next wine, it is a beautiful sipping wine.
S.A. Prüm 2003 Bernkasteler Lay $39/case $31.50
This wine has a little more body and a little more yellow in the color. It has lovely grapefruity flavors and surprisingly, Saskia suggested pairing this wine with a red meat such as lamb.
S.A. Prüm 2007 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett $24/case $19.20
This Riesling comes from the most famous vineyard in the Mosel, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr. As a Kabinett, this wine is sweeter than the first two, but pleasantly so with the tingling acidity off-setting the sweetness beautifully.
S.A. Prüm 2003 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese $39/case $31.50
Auslese, from a selection of highly ripened grapes, is sweeter still than the Kabinett, and moves into the dessert wine category. Try this with your favorite artisan blue cheese, for an amazing salty sweet combo. You can enjoy this wine now, but Saskia said that you can lay it down for up to 20 years.
Contributor: Julie Howe