The expression “small is beautiful” has never been truer than when describing Germany’s Ahr wine region. This tiny stretch of vineyards covers only 560 hectares with plots mostly concentrated along 25 kilometers of the river Ahr from the village of Altenahr to the mighty Rhine. With its steep terraced vineyards and charming hamlets, this picturesque wine region located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate wins our hearts over every time we visit.
Church documents from 9th century show that winemaking was already firmly established in Ahr all those years ago and some say the Romans were the first to experiment with vines in this compact, fertile valley. Present day vineyards comprise one district site, one collective vineyard and 40 private plots. Certified VDP sites in Ahr include Landskrone and Burggarten in Heimersheim and Pfarrwingert and Hardtberg in Dernau.
History aside, we think what makes the Ahr region so attractive is its unexpectedness. Who would think such a dot on the map (it is the third smallest of Germany’s 13 wine regions) would be such a treasure trove of quality wines and be dripping with awards for its winemaking?
It is not just its size that makes Ahr so remarkable. It is Germany’s northernmost wine producing region. Its signature wine is a red – Spätburgunder, otherwise known as Pinot Noir. Red grape varietals account for about 86% of fruit in Ahr with Spätburgunder its flagship wine. This region is famed for producing light red, deliciously fruity, dry, tannic expressions of this grape with a prominent oak tones.
Other red wines include Portugieser and Frühburgunder each reflecting a unique and nourishing terroir. Those pretty slopes and winding vineyards are not just for show! The narrowness of the Ahr valley and protective Eifel mountains create a Mediterranean micro-climate ideal for the ripening of red grapes. Add to this southwest and southeast facing vines and meticulous winemaking techniques and it is little surprise that you find gem after gem in your glass.
Ahr is also known for a handful of top-quality whites including Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. These grow alongside the indigenous Regent, Dornfelder, and Domina and Swiss Müller-Thurgau. The high caliber of Ahr wines means top prices although there is an increasing number of excellent entry level wines on offer.
Another adage that suits Ahr is “quality not quantity”. This is the only “problem” we have with this jewel-like region. Ahr’s wonderful wines are soaked up by the high domestic market demand so can be hard to get hold of internationally. Really this is a “problem” we like because it means we have an excuse to visit more often and discover remarkable wines for you!