Exploring S.A. Prüm Rieslings

Source: Palm Bay Imports.

His hand felt like an oven mitt—filled with stone. “My god,” I thought as I removed my paw, “those are hands that have worked the vines.” Which is true.

Raimund Prüm is a mountain of a man, and he and his family having been making wine for a very long time. Some of the vines are 130 years old. The Prüms have vineyards on the slopes above the Mosel River, whose various formations of slate have enviable effects on the grapes. Raimund —with help from his wife Pirjo— oversaw the operation from 1971 until recently, when he put his daughter Saskia in charge.

I’ve enjoyed my share of riesling over the years—Dr. Konstantin Frank’s are a favorite— but it never has been my favorite wine. I tend to drink white wine in warm weather, and too many of the rieslings I have tried are sweet. Maybe it is my thick northerner blood, but sweet drinks just do not appeal to me when the Mercury is up.

And it was a balmy May day when Raimund was here in Washington, DC. The thought might have entered my mind: “Will he squash me like a grape if I show little enthusiasm for his wines?” But it did not have the chance, because before I even met the man his lovely wife saw to it that I got a glass of S.A. Prüm Kabinett 2009, which was surprisingly un-sweet and wafted a honeysuckle aroma. It was, to my surprise, refreshing.

Over lunch, I tasted at least seven different S.A. Prüm rieslings and was really impressed. Not only were they all very good, each riesling was different. The Wehlener 2010 was acidic and nosed of pineapple; the Wehlener Sonnenuhr 2014 was almost a dessert wine and oozed fruit aromas; and Spatlese 2003 unleashed a bouquet of tropical scents. Some wines were dry, some were a little sweet, and one was full-on sweet (but not cloying). It was impressive to experience so many different flavor profiles coaxed from the same grape.

Both the Prüms emphasized that riesling should be treated as a year ‘round drink, with different versions being better in different seasons. As for the old saw about red wine going with meat—humbug. They pair wild boar with riesling.

When I departed the tasting, I thanked Raimund for the eye-opening experience. He expressed his gratitude and invited me to come stay in the guest house at the vineyard. He said it had a fine bed, so that I could rest after we tasted wine early in the day. “You can rest so that you will be ready for the second tasting we will have.” Pirjo surprised me with a farewell hug and told me she would have two chilled bottles waiting for me in the guest house.

Time to book my flight. Tell my wife and the kids I’ll be a week or two late for dinner.

Kevin R. Kosar is the vice president of policy at the R Street Institute and the author of Whiskey: A Global History and Moonshine: A Global History. He is the editor and founder of AlcoholReviews.com. This column also was published by the American Spectator.


Elk Run Vineyard

by Jacob

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Elk Run Vineyard in Mt. Airy, Maryland.  The drive out was beautiful. Having lived in the Washington suburbs for many years, it always strikes me how short the drive is from urban and suburban neighborhoods to farm land.  This was no exception.  Located about 45 minutes from Washington, DC Elk Run is a 30 year old winery that makes a number of different wines, sourced mostly from Maryland grapes.

The tasting room is located directly next to one of Elk Run’s two estate vineyards (Liberty Tavern Vineyard, the other Cold Friday Vineyard is across the street).  They grow most of their own grapes, purchasing only some Viogner and Malbec from California.  The staff is wonderful. The day I visited (and I suspect most days), family members of the owners were working.  They are incredibly knowledgeable not only about their wines, but about the area, and the challenges of growing grapes and producing wine in the Maryland climate.

The tasting program consisted of two options. For $5 you can taste 6 wines chosen by Elk Run and for $8, you can can taste 6 wines of your choice. I chose to do the $5 tasting and sampled the following wines (note that each wine does not have its own page. I have provided links by wine type, scroll down to find their description):

2009 Liberty Tavern Vineyard Chardonnay ($24) – A light and well balanced chardonnay that does not have the over oaked flavors so common in California, barrel-aged chardonnays.  (Rating ****)

2008 Cold Friday Vineyard Merlot ($22) – This a jammy wine that unlike many merlots is light on tannins.  Drinkable similar to many California Cabernet Sauvignons.  (Rating ***1/2)

2008 Gold Friday Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($26) – This is a young Cab with big tannins and concentrated berry flavors. Traditionally, East coast vineyards struggle with Cab grapes.  It will be interesting to see how this wine ages.  (Rating ***1/2)

2008 Riesling ($16) – My favorite wine of the tasting (and the only one that I bought).  A good example of an East Coast Riesling with light sweetness surrounding light fruit flavors and a floral bouquet on the nose.  (Rating ****1/2)

Annapolis Sunset ($9) – Sweet Rose wine made from Vigonier and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Have hints of grapefruit on the palate.

Sweet Katherine ($18) – A dessert wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Full bodies with typical qualities of dessert or late harvest wines.  Very sweet with big berry and chocolate flavors.


Linganore Winecellars Terrapin White 2008

Source: Linganore Winecellars

by Jacob

Living in Maryland, I want Maryland wineries to produce quality products that I enjoy drinking. My experience with local wines is limited and has been mixed.  I have had some very good wines and some very mediocre wines. In addition, I do not love sweet wines, which many wineries produce. Recently, I have discovered a white wine that I really enjoy.  It was a “Terrapin White” made by the Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Maryland.

Terrapin White is a Riesling based wine that has 3 percent residual sugar.  This is a little sweeter than I would normally choose to drink.  The wine was a light yellow (or straw color and on first smell, the nose had hints of pineapple. The wine has hints of pear with a note honeysuckle. This may be because of the residual sugar left to make it slightly sweet.

Overall, I think we have found a good summer wine.  Now to find more bottles because even though it is a Maryland wine, they are not as easy to find in the State of Maryland as you would think.  State law makes it impossible for the winery to send them to me—it’s a felony to send and receive wine in Maryland.  (***3/4)


6/2008 Wolf Blass Gold Label Riesling 2004

A nice white for about $12-$14 a bottle retail that is slightly perfumey and shows nice citrus flavors. A hat tip to Mr. Wilkerson and BURKA’S WINE AND LIQUOR STORE for bringing this to our attention. (Rating ***3/4)

To see if our retailer can sell you a bottle of WOLF BLASS GOLD LABEL, click here, and search for “WOLF BLASS”. Otherwise, check with the company that produces it, http://www.WolfBlass.com.au/.