Frühburgunder – The Northernmost Pinot Noir

November 5, 2007

One of the most unique wine regions I have ever been to is the Ahr region in Germany. It is unique, in that the Ahr is I think the northernmost predominantly red winemaking area. In an earlier post I was shocked that they made wine in Holland, but that is white wine. That is somewhat understandable. But the Ahr is almost as far north as the Maastricht area of Holland, and it makes predominantly red wines! Just to put it in perspective, we are talking about a region that is about 350 miles/550 kilometers north of Burgundy.

The Ahr sits in a narrow valley in which the predominantly western cold winds are blocked creating a micro-climate that is fantastic for making Pinot Noirs. Because the Ahr is so far north, it enjoys lower intensity sunlight but for significantly longer hours of the day than the Burgundy does and at the same time the valley cools down considerably at nights, which is very good for the Pinot grape. Couple this with unique slate/volcanic rock that is predominant here and you have a small area (you can drive through it in about 10 minutes) that is remarkably well suited for growing world class Pinot Noirs.

We have visited three of the best winemakers of the Ahr Valley, Jean Stodden, J.J. Adeneuer and Meyer-Näkel. They are all quite different in their styles, Stodden perhaps the most elegant (also most high in acidity), Adeneuer quite Burgundy like and Meyer-Naekel perhaps the most approachable of the three.

Frühburgunder is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape that is predominantly (or only?) grown in the Ahr Valley. Even in the Ahr it is much less planted than its cousin, the Spätburgunder, which is the Pinot Noir. Meyer-Näkel’s 2006 Frühburgunder is a great representation of the Frühburgunder varietal. It is medium bodied, very straightforward, a bit of berry fruit, some complexity, but somehow something is missing from it. It is elegant, made in Burgundian style but unlike the top end Burgundies (my favorites) this one delivers most of its “value” in the first two seconds as you sip it and then it stops. It is not that it does not have a finish, but the finish is sort of flat, does not say much.

Frühburgunder is an interesting varietal and I think Werner Näkel, the winemaker, brought out much of this grape’s potential, but perhaps because of style in which this wine was made, I have to compare it to Pinot Noirs of Burgundy and I would favor the latter. One thing I liked about the other winemakers in the Ahr, namely Stodden and Adeneuer, is that they are distinctly different than Burgundies, and in my mind they are in a different category. Watch this blog for reviews of other Ahr wines in the future.

If you love quality unique wines you have to give this Frühburgunder a shot. In Europe you should be able to get it from the winery itself and in the US these guys carry it:

Cellars International, Inc.
1780 La Costa Meadows Dr, Suite 100
San Marcos, CA 92078
800.596.WINE (9463)

For more information on the Ahr Valley and our experience there you can read a post here.

Name: Meyer-Näkel’s Frühburgunder, 2006er

Rating: 8 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 17 euros

Got it at: Meyer-Näkel Winery, Dernau, Germany

Meyer-Näkel’s Frühburgunder, 2006er IMeyer-Näkel’s Frühburgunder, 2006er II

3 Responses to “Frühburgunder – The Northernmost Pinot Noir”

  1. […] in fact it’s rather enjoyable.   Or who knows … it’s easier to try Zoli’s Wine Blog’s recommendations if you live in Europe.   (No relationship other than being […]

  2. […] the northernmost Pinot Noir region in the world (perhaps the northernmost red wine region) in an earlier post. At that time I reviewed a Frühburgunder, a little known clone of the Pinot Noir grape. What is […]

  3. Katja Says:

    Hi there thanks for the blog entry which I found when googling Fruehburgunder.another region where you will find this grape is in a place/region in Germany, called Franken.that’s the Eastern region of Bavaria.

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