The spätburgunders from the Ahr deserve more attention. They are fruity, sizzling with energy and full of finesse. I’m a big fan.
All about the Ahr
The Ahr is one of the smallest wine regions in Germany with only 560 hectares of vineyard acreage. To give perspective, the smallest anbaugebiet, Hessische bergstrasse, is planted with 440 hectares followed by Sachsen with 490 hectares. Read about the Nahe and the Mosel here.
The vineyards are planted on steep slopes and the Spätburgunder as well as the Früburgunder are king here. The area therefore specializes in red wines and has been known as a red wine paradise for centuries.
Despite its northern location, the Ahr valley has a mild mesoclimate, protected on the one hand by the Eifel and on the other by the warmth of the Cologne lowland. The soil on the slopes consists of slate and volcanic rock, the lower part consists of loess and loam.
The difference between Spätburgunder and Frühburgunder
In the arh valley, the Spätburgunder, which we all know as Pinot Noir, alternates with the Frühburgunder (35 hectares planted in the Ahr region). A grape whose wines have a very good reputation. After doing some research, I can say that it comes down to this: The Frühburgunder is a variant of the Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir and is also called Pinot Précoce or Pinot Madeleine. This variety matures on average two weeks to a month earlier than Pinot Noir and probably originated spontaneously in the Ahr valley. In lesser years, the grape succeeds in reaching full ripeness, which is, of course, worthwhile in such a northern location. The disadvantage of Frühburgunder is its low yields.
In the glass, Frühburgunder offers a lot of juicy fruit and expression and a bit more color and body than Spätburgunder.
To indulge in the Ahr from home (it’s only a three-hour drive and as soon as travelling is allowed I’ll visit) I tasted some wines from Weingut Nelles, run by father Thomas and son Philip. They are known for their modern style Pinot (Spät & Früh) wines and are one of six wineries from the Ahr affiliated with the V.D.P. (Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter).
To ensure a lot of extraction, part of the juice is drained and a long soaking of less juice with more skins takes place to obtain a lot of aroma, color and flavor. Richness in the glass is the result!
2018 “1 AHR” Spätburgunder
A fragrant wine with a beautiful deep color. The fruit is energetic, almost wild, strawberries, cherries, berries. A full and powerful wine with a fine tannin structure. The wine is pure, has something charming and engaging.
Nelles ahr Spätburgunder
2018 B-48 Spätburgunder LANDSKRONE GG
Beautiful deep ruby red color. Lots of spiciness splashes out of the glass, again those wild fruits, nice concentration. The wine is powerful and energetic, has some aromas of flint, a touch of vanilla. Full and juicy in the mouth, the tannins are well integrated. A wonderful GG!
2017 Pinot Madeleine – Frühburgunder
The color is deeper than its predecessors. Madeleine is colorful and elegant. The wine is powerful and expressive. Ripe dark fruit, berries, blackberries. Seductive spiciness. Elegant acidity and juicy tannins. This Frühburgunder is feminine, exuberant and heartfelt.