Jean Stodden, Spätburgunder Alte Reben, Ahr, Germany 2010
Outstanding: best wine of the Top Pinot Noirs outside Burgundy tasting in April 2016 issue.
Smoky undergrowth nose, evolved but quite seductive. Silky in the mouth, long, with a confidently acid-led structure balanced by delicate summer fruit. Jean Stodden, Spätburgunder Alte Reben 2010 shows considerable density for Pinot without being too extracted; a true delight.
Price UK £115 ABS Wine Agencies
The Ahr Valley is a most unexpected region. Of its 560ha (hectares) of vineyards, well over half are planted with Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder in German). But what is more surprising is the location of the Ahr, well to the north of the Mosel Valley and not far from the city of Bonn. Most German Pinot Noir is grown in warmer locations such as the Pfalz or Baden, but it has long thrived in this cool northern enclave. It does so thanks to the valley’s soils, which are of basalt and slate, rock types that absorb sunshine and then reflect it back onto the vines after sundown. The vines climb up these rocky cliff faces, and the narrowness of the valley as a whole creates a most singular microclimate.
That the Ahr Pinots have long been highly regarded in Germany is partly due to the gifted winemakers who have worked here for decades. As well as Stodden, other revered estates include Meyer-Näkel, Adeneuer and Deutzerhof. But for many years Weingut Jean Stodden has been regarded by many as the leading property. Whereas most other estates also produce wines from varieties such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Frühburgunder,Stodden’s 6.5ha are almost exclusively planted with Pinot Noir. The average annual production is around 45,000 bottles.
It’s an estate that traces its history back to the 16th century. This 2010 Pinot was vinified by Gerhard Stodden, who had run the estate since 1975, but who unfortunately died, aged 64, in 2013. He has been succeeded by his son Alexander, who for some years had been working alongside him. As is often the case in Germany, even a small estate produces a large range of bottlings. The style had long been modelled on Burgundies from the Côte de Nuits, and Stodden sought to produce wines with structure and depth, aged for at least 16 months in medium-toast French oak.
At Stodden there are no fewer than three grosses gewächs bottlings from outstanding sites, as well as lighter styles for early drinking. The finest selection is always the Alte Reben (old vines), which triumphed in this tasting. It’s interesting to note that 2010 was not generally regarded as an
outstanding vintage here, and Ahr wines from 2009, 2011 and 2012 are more highly rated.