Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Ahr, diminutive German wine region of 563 ha/1,391 acres in 2013 specializing in red wine and named after the river which flows east from the hills of the Eifel to join the Rhine near Remagen (see map under germany). The most westerly vineyards are in dramatic, rocky, wooded scenery near Altenahr, where the steep slopes on either side of the river reach up to 300 m/980 ft above sea level, and sometimes narrow to the dimensions of a gorge. Many are covered in slate as well as basalt and clay-rich greywacke, well suited to spätburgunder (pinot noir). The region lies between 50 and 51 degrees of latitude, so that a good mesoclimate is needed to ripen the grapes. Most of the best sites face south east to south west (see topography). The dark soil (see soil colour), the reflected heat from the curious rock formations, and the protection from north winds that blow above the valley intensify summer warmth. Spätburgunder has gained ground steadily and for most of this century has been planted on more than 60% of the vineyard area. portugieser, frühburgunder, and riesling each represent 6–8% of plantings, the last favouring slate soils and evincing tropical fruit character similar to that encountered in the mittelrhein. The Ahr used to be known for soft, late-picked, medium-sweet Spätburgunder but today’s typical Ahr wine is a fully fermented, dry, oak aged, tannic Spätburgunder of good colour from low-yielding vineyards. Almost 80% of the region’s grape harvest is processed by four co-operative cellars, and the state of Rheinland-Pfalz owns the largest estate, 18.5 ha/46 acres based on the 13th-century Kloster Marienthal. A small collection of privately owned estates has enjoyed increasing demand and prestige in the wake of Germany’s 1995–2005 red-wine boom.