I have posted before about a wonderful, albeit tiny northern German wine region called the Ahr. They predominantly grow Spaetburgunder, which is Pinot Noir in Germany, on this tiny valley just south of Cologne. The valley is almost like a canyon with very steep walls built primarily of slate. Because of the steepness and the slate’s ability to absorb heat, the grapes in this tiny valley get a lot of warmth that one would not expect from such a nordic location. In fact, because the Ahr valley is so far north, the grapes here get exposed to the sun much longer than in more southern locations such as Pinot Noir’s home, Burgundy. Also because if the northern location, the nights are quite cool, which is perfect for Pinots. Welcome to one of the strangest wine regions in the world, where they grow truly world class Pinot Noir: the Ahr Valley of Germany.

One of the top producers in the Ahr is Jean Stodden. I had the fortune to visit with Jean back in the fall of 2007. That is when I picked up this gorgeous 2003 Spaetburgunder Auslese. This is one of Stodden’s top wines, probably among the best of the Ahr, if not of German Pinots.

The first thing that hits me is the clean nose of the wine. It is obvious, as soon as you smell it that we have a Pinot in the glass. Then as you taste it, you get a load of acidity, then the same clean fruit and on the finish you get that minerality that probably comes from slate. It has complexity, but much more, the wine has a beautiful structure that would be hard to find in Burgundies. In fact Jean Stodden does not even like to compare the Ahr to Burgundy, he wants to make wines that stand on their own and have a unique quality that resembles the terroir of the region. Let’s just say, after tasting several others like Mayer-Naeckel and Adeneur, he succeeds at that more than any other from the valley.

Name: Jean Stodden, Spaetburgunder Auslese ***, 2003

Rating: 9 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 56 euros

Got it at: Weingut Jean Stodden, Rech, Ahr, Germany