Sunday, November 27, 2022

Ahr: The Top Winemakers - Vinum WeinGuide Deutschland/ Germany 2023




The Vinum Weinguide Germany 2023 was released a few weeks ago, presenting Vinum's choice of Germany’s best 1 000 wine producers and reviewing more than 10 700 wines on 1118 pages.

5 out of 5 stars („world class“) were awarded to 18 estates. In addition, there are 31 estates with 4.5 stars, and 66 estates with 4 stars.

See here: Germany's 18 Top Winemakers (With 5/5 Stars) - Vinum WeinGuide Deutschland 2023

This posting is the first posting in a series of postings that provide more details on individual wine regions.

In the Ahr region, there is no producer in the 5/5 star group of the Vinum WeinGuide Deutschland/ Germany 2023 and one producer in the 4.5/5 star group. 

Annette Schiller, ombiasy WineTours, and I have met all the 5/5 winemakers at various occasions over the past years, often at their estate during a Germany wine tour by ombiasy WineTours, which is owned and run by Annette Schiller and based in Washington DC, USA.

Ahr

(London Wine Competition)

Located in the valley of the river Ahr (a tributary of the Rhine river), Ahr is one of the smallest of Germany’s 13 wine regions. It is located within the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate and is the world’s northernmost wine region with red wine grape production. The region is known particularly for its Pinot Noir (known in Germany as Spatburgunder) wines, as well as its Portugieser and Riesling wines.

Compared to the Pinot Noir wines of Burgundy, Ahr’s red wines are much paler in color and have a much higher oak-dominated flavor. Until the 1980s, wines from Ahr were lighter in color (almost resembling a Rosé) and were sweeter.

While these Pinot Noir wines might not be as dark and rich-bodied as those from France, they are very much in demand within Germany. This is because Germany has a very limited production of red wine grapes such as Pinot Noir, and there is a high domestic demand for them, leaving little availability for export.

Ahr is unique among German wine regions for its red wine production. In fact, red grape varietals account for 86 percent of all wines produced in Ahr. The region’s unique micro-climate, which is warm and Mediterranean in nature, accounts for the ability of red wine grapes to thrive.

The history of winemaking in Ahr traces back to the ancient Roman period when the narrow Ahr river valley became a place to grow red wine grapes. Despite its northern location, the relatively warm micro-climate encouraged wine production.

Visiting Ahr Producers

Jean Stodden (4.5 Stars)

Pictures: Tasting with Alexander Stodden, Weingut Jean Stodden, Ahr. See: Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Jean Stodden, Ahr, with Alexander Stodden - Germany-North Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Meyer-Näkel (4 Stars)

Pictures: Vineyard Walk and Tasting at Weingut Meyer-Näkel in Dernau, Ahr, with Dörte Näkel – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

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We had lunch at Maison Chabran - La Grande Table. This restaurant has been a French institution for decades. Since 1977, the restaurant had been Michelin-starred, until 2000 even with 2 stars. In the Michelin Guide 2023, they withdrew the star. 

Until recently, Maison Chabran was run and owned by Michel Chabran. A few years ago, he started to step back and to hand over to his son Louis Chabran. Chef Louis Chabran is now fully in charge. As it often happens during such father-to-son transfers, the Michelin Guide withdraws the star or stars.

We started lunch in the beautiful garden area with a glass of Champagne and an Amuse Gueule. We then moved to the dining room for lunch with regional wines. One of the highlights was the impressive cheese tray at the end the lunch.

Louis was in the kitchen, Ms. Chabran in charge of the service and Michel Chabran meet us when we left the restaurant. 

Maison Chabran/ Annette Schiller

This is a truly beautiful place. When you approach the restaurant you see a façade with different ochre hues that enhance the traditional pebbles of the Rhône river. You enter and you find an elegant dining room, decked out in sunshine colours, an open fireplace, a garden with many different flower and herb beds - that Michel loves to show you after a meal -, patios and a sumptuous wine cellar. And then there is the exquisite cuisine that draws on excellent products every season in the Dauphiné and Provençal traditions. 

MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View

This traditional restaurant is well known in the area. Classicism depicts the culinary approach, which is perfectly paired with fine Côtes du Rhône wines. Delightful welcome and service.

L'avis de Gault&Millau (17/20)
 
Michel Chabran et son fils Louis conservent pour les soirées du week-end la "Grande Table" afin que les locaux puissent se régaler de produits et de mets d'exception orchestrés, comme se doit, de mains de maîtres. Seulement à ces occasions, le grand style se remet en marche et les toques s'assument, le temps de quelques repas où l'on célèbre les saint-jacques et les truffes, le homard, le ris de veau, le pigeon et les plus beaux gibiers qui font le bonheur de la rareté. Dans la courte carte du moment, un tartare de veau aux senteurs asiatiques, la langoustine et sa déclinaison de carottes, le pigeon Chabert "comme à Marrakech", la figue pochée au porto sphère chocolat caramel et framboise. Grande cave rhodanienne, ambiance à la fois stylée et familiale, avec la bienveillance du grand Michel toujours attentif.
 
Michel and Louis Chabran (Chefs4thePlanet)
 
Michel Chabran is a starred chef who belongs to a generation that likes to harmonize tradition and modernity, drawing generously on the riches of its land, to which he will remain faithful the rest of his life. Over the years, he transformed the small family café into a prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant. He transmitted his passion to his son Louis, and under his leadership the next generation of Maison Chabran arrives with the same values and desire to grow.
 
Interview with Louis Chabran

Michel Chabran (in La Dophine.com):  « C’est sûr que ça ne fait jamais plaisir. La Maison Chabran était étoilée depuis 1977 [elle a même eu deux macarons jusqu’en l’an 2000, NDLR]. Mais c’est une chose à laquelle on s’attendait. Nous sommes à un vrai tournant, notamment pour La Grande table à Pont-de-l’Isère. Mon père [Michel Chabran, NDLR] a annoncé, depuis deux ans, dans la presse et aux guides, qu’il se retirait des cuisines. On est en pleine période de passation donc ça me paraît logique : j’arrive et il faut que je fasse mes preuves, que je relève ce défi. Une étoile, il faut la mériter. »

Arriving

In the Garden






In the Dining Room















Cheese Tray



Dessert




Bye-bye




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