Jean Stodden, Spätburgunder JS, 2008

Jean Stodden, Spätburgunder JS, 2008

You may not have heard about the Ahr. It is a small tributary of the Rhine; it is also a valley; and it is also a wine growing region. And a very unusual one too. Despite being located far north between 50th and 51st parallel, the Ahr is red wine country - way over 80% of all grapes grown here are red because of a favourable micro-climate. And one of the producers best know for Ahr red wine is Jean Stodden, "das Rotweingut" (the red wine winery).

It is almost shocking that in over two years of wine rambling we don't seem to have featured a single Ahr wine, and to change that Stodden seemed the obvious choice.

The Stodden family looks back to a wine-growing tradition of over 400 years; they started growing vines in 1578 and set up their own winery in 1900. On a little over 6 ha they do now mostly grow Pinot Noir, but also other red grapes such as Dornfelder or Dunkelfelder. The Pinot Noir JS is made from grapes grown on steep slopes in Rech and Dernau and has been matured in new and oak oak barrels for 17 months. According to the wine merchant who sold this to me it is the entry-level barrique Pinot yet "already a class of its own".

If you now expect a very heavy wine I have to disappoint you. Quite the opposite, the JS smells relatively light and fresh with fresh herbs such as menthol and really lovely cherry. There is also substance, aromas of bread dough, earth and smoky spices. "Würzig" is the German term for spicy - not in a hot but more in a flavoursome way. The wine also smells of red berries and a touch of strawberry jam, which altogether reminded me of a smoky, herbal scone with peppery aromas. Not extremely deep perhaps, but encouraging. Drinking the JS was a similar experience: fresh (nice acidity), smooth and cool, also würzig with nice fruit and some pleasant dough, spice and roast bread flavours. There was also a yeasty mushroominess with a bit of undergrowth that I find a typical sign of German Pinot Noir.

The JS is an easy to drink Pinot that one the first days seemed to miss either a little substance or that kick of excitement to feel more than enjoyable, but felt more flavoursome on the second day. Overall I had expected a little more from Stodden, especially at this price. The JS may need a couple of years to develop its potential.


Submitted by Tim Sunday, 14/08/2011

Collected quite a few Ahr wines over the last two years incl a few Stoddens. I'd say Stoddens prices just put their wines out of my league. Had some very heady Pinot from Kriechel lately. Be most curious if you were to review some of their offerings.

Submitted by torsten Sunday, 14/08/2011

In reply to by Tim

It is true, Stoddens seems to have ambitious pricing; although Ahr red wine can be quite expensive overall. I am interested to try Kriechel, if I can source a bottle or two...

Submitted by Barry Fowden Friday, 19/08/2011

Hi Torsten....
I enjoy the Ahr reds...
Meyer-Näkel, Adeneuer, Nelles, Kreuzberg & Deutzerhof.....
but I have never been overwhelmed by Stodden's wines...
basically because I have only had the young ones.
I believe they age well....but I agree that for the money it is not
a property I return to...
Gault Millau gave the wine you tasted 86 Points....

Submitted by torsten Friday, 19/08/2011

In reply to by Barry Fowden

I agree, Barry, the Ahr has some lovely red - recently I saw a bottle of Meyer-Näkel Pinot in a London restaurant and of course had to order it, which was delightful. I cannot comment on Stodden beyond this one wine, but people keep saying that the wines need time. I would suspect the JS will improve with a few more years, but unless the change is notable I would probably turn somewhere else for the same price.

Submitted by Molly Monday, 22/08/2011

The Ahr has to be one of my favorite regions, but it is not just Stodden that is overpriced. If you come across any good values, please share! Did you have a chance to taste his grappa?

Submitted by Sackbutt Monday, 22/08/2011

In reply to by Molly

In March I visited three wineries in the Ahr avoiding the big names and looking for some bargains. Kriechel seemed to offer a decent price quality ratio, with the basic Spätburgunders under 10€ all very clean and aromatic, and the more fancy offering also most impressive. I also visited Lingen in Ahrweiler and Jakob Sebastian in Rech. I found the Sebastian wine at the Weingut quite steely and mineralic (they don't use Barriques at all) and at home they haved proven very enjoyable with meals, and prices were also very reasonable. The Alte Reben wines impress most. Lingen's wines also did'nt disappoint. They seemed very down to earth.

Submitted by torsten Monday, 22/08/2011

In reply to by Sackbutt

The Ahr tends to be a more expensive area, so Sackbutt's recommendations for the "less expensive Ahr" are highly welcome. Something for us to explore, I think. Personally, I don't mind expensive so much if I feel the value is right. Obviously, this may mean drinking Ahr wine less often, but I'd rather drink less and better. It is more irritating if you pay more and don't also get more. Having said that, I found that Meyer-Näkel is one of the producers there where I can see a relation between price and quality.

Sadly, no Stodden grappa for this Wine Rambler so far.

Submitted by Bob K Sunday, 25/03/2012

I had a Stodden JS (their entry level wine) at a restaurant in Boeblingen last month and was impressed enough to visit the Ahr the following weekend. While I liked what was there, like several other commenters, I found them to be overpriced for what they were. Deutzerhof had some great GGs, but they were still a bit steep, nonetheless I bought a few. The big surprise was Kreuzberg. Best wines I found in the Ahr, and the price was good. They also had a fruhburgunder GG that was awesome. Will visit again and try to fit in a trip to Meyer-Naekel as well as more Kreuzberg.