Ahr (wine region)

Ahr (wine region)

Ahr is a region ("Anbaugebiet") for quality wine in Germany [http://www.wein.de/1454.0.html Wein.de (German Agricultural Society): Ahr] , read on January 2, 2008] , and is located in the valley of the river Ahr, a tributary of Rhine, and is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. With only convert|548|ha of vines as of 2006 [http://www.deutscheweine.de/icc/Internet-DE/med/1a6/1a64f607-a3e5-5117-3d28-952196117f51,11111111-1111-1111-1111-111111111111.pdf German Wine Institute: German Wine Statistics 2007-2008] ] , it is one of smaller of Germany's 13 regions. Despite its northern location (it is for example situated north of Mosel region) it primarily produces red wines, and red grape varieties account for 88% of the vineyard area, which is more than in any other German wine region.


It is believed that vines were cultivated in the Ahr valley already in Roman times, as is the case with nearby Mosel, although definite documentary evidence to this effect seems to be lacking. [http://www.wein-plus.de/glossar/index.html?Suchwort=Ahr Wein-Plus Glossar: Ahr] , read on January 2, 2008] However, a property list of the Benedictine Prüm Abbey drawn up in the year 893 AD, called the "Prümer Urbar", lists vineyards in eight Ahr locations, so at least at this time, winemaking in the Ahr region was established.

Geography and climate

Situated between the 50 and 51 degrees north, Ahr is the world's most northern region dominated by red wine grapes. So far north, very good sites with a warm microclimate are needed to properly ripen red wine grapes, and the Ahr vineyards are said to have a "Mediterranean" microclimate. Most vineyards are located on terraced slopes facing southwest to southeast along the middle and lower portions of river Ahr, over a stretch of 25 kilometers, from Altenahr to the Rhine.J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p 8, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0198609906] The wine-growing parts of the Ahr valley enjoy protection from the Eiffel mountains resulting in a favoured mesoclimate.

Soils vary between slate, basalt and greywacke clay of volcanic origin.

Ahr consists of a single district ("Bereich") called Walporzheim-Ahrtal, only one collective vineyard site ("Großlage") called Klosterberg, and 43 single vineyard sites.

Grape varieties

At 61.5% or 337 ha in 2006, Ahr grows a higher proportion of the much-appreciated Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) than any other German wine region. Portugieser (8.8%), Riesling (7.1%), Frühburgunder, Dornfelder and Müller-Thurgau are also grown to some extent.

Wine style

While Ahr primarily grew red wine before the current red wine trend in Germany, until the 1980s the wines were almost invariably very light-coloured, bordering on rosé, and often were significantly sweet. While this style of wine was perhaps rather unimpressive by international standards, Ahr could rely on its vicinity to the populous Ruhr Area to sell its small production to weekend tourists. In the 1980s, Werner Näkel of Weingut Meyer-Näkel started to experiment with extended maceration and a significant influence of oak, which then was a style of red wine which hardly existed in Germany. [ [http://www.wein-plus.de/glossar/index.html?Suchwort=Meyer-N%E4kel Wein-Plus Glossar: Meyer-Näkel] , read on January 2, 2008] After his wines won their first award in 1989, his style was followed by many other Ahr wineries as well as in other German regions. This style is now firmly established as the style of the best wines of the top Ahr producers: dry, fairly tannic and with a heavy oak influence.J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p 659-660, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0198609906] In comparison with Pinot Noir wines of Burgundy, Ahr wines tend to have a paler red colour and being more oak-dominated.

The top red wines used to be classified as dry ("trocken") Auslese, but nowadays they are either called Grosses Gewächs or are classified as plain Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete and are sold under estate-specific wine names.

The best red wines of Ahr are quite expensive, and are routinely priced significantly higher than Germany's top dry Rieslings. Prices in excess of 50 euro are not uncommon for the top of the range at more well-known producers, although cheaper entry wines also are produced. Due to the limited production, and the current high demand for domestic red wines in Germany, Ahr wines are almost never seen on the export market.


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