They call him the “red-wine wizard”, the Ahr Valley’s Werner Näkel of Weingut Meyer-Näkel. Werner is one of the leaders of modern Germany’s high-quality Pinot Noir movement. Pinot Noir is nothing new to German vineyards, mostly known by its’ traditional name, Spätburgunder, the grape has been part of the German wine scene for centuries. In fact, Germany is now the 3rd largest Pinot producer in the world. What has changed in the last several decades is the development of superior clones for the region, higher temperatures due to global climate change and most importantly, the rise of a new generation of quality-obsessed winemakers with a vision to produce wines on a par with world’s best. Werner Näkel was one of the pioneers of this movement and is today one of Germany’s brightest stars in the Pinot-verse!
From his winery in Dernau, Werner Näkel and his daughters Mieke and Dorte manage over 15 hectares of vineyards in the steeply-pitched slopes of the Ahr Valley. At over 50 degrees latitude, the Ahr is at the very northern edge of the world-wide wine production zone. Despite being perched on this northern extreme, the deep valley of the Ahr provides excellent protection from the cold and wind, assuring the warm conditions necessary for the ripening of Pinot Noir. The real problem with the Ahr is that it is Germany’s smallest wine region, making these wonderful Pinots very difficult to obtain of outside of the region. Most wine lovers have to content themselves with simply reading about these wines!
Ever since visiting Meyer-Näkel in 2002, I have wanted to be able to introduce customers to Werner’s remarkable wines. Sadly, the amount of this nectar that gets imported into the USA is miniscule, German aficionados happily snap up nearly all of his production. We have been very fortunate this year in getting a small supply of the outstanding 2011 Meyer-Näkel “Blue Slate” Pinot Noir. This wine has a wonderfully bright ruby red hue, with aromas and flavors of ripe raspberries and blackberries. It shows both a juicy fruit filling and a fine minerality from the distinctive blue slate soil makeup of the vineyards used for this wine, with subtle notes of smoke and cloves. The tannin is velvety, elegant and full of finesse. The wine is quite drinkable now but it will cellar nicely for 5 or 6 additional years as well.
$44.99 per bottle.
Try a bottle for yourself, but don’t wait too long. Rare gems like this don’t come along every day, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!
~ David Clark, Wine Manager for The Wine Connection