Meyer Näkel, Ahr Valley
Visiting the most northerly of Germany's wine regions, where Pinot Noir is king

Meyer Näkel is an interesting winery, and it's probably the most well known of all Ahr producers these days, with international visibility. We visited with Meike Näkel who told us the story of the family domaine (she's pictured right, above, together with her sister Dőrte).


Back in the 1950s, her grandfather (Näkel) and grandmother (Meyer) joined their respective family's pub and winery together, and merged their names to create Mayer Nackl. But her father, Werner, didn't see much of a future for himself in the family business. There were lots of tourists, and the product of the valley was Liebfraumilch-style mass production, with lots of sweet rosé and sweet red wines. 'People used to drink the red wine warm,' says Meike. Werner decided that teaching was his thing, and he studied maths and sports teaching at Bonn. He thought that when he was established as a teacher, he'd have time to do the wine as well. So he finished in the studies and began working in the winery. His plans were scuppered when his father had a heart attack, and could no longer work much. So Werner decided to take two years off and modernise the winery, before returning to teaching. It was then he realized that wine was a full time business, and he never went back to school.

This was in 1982. Werner was a pioneer for quality Pinot here. He went to Burgundy and brought barriques, and he went into the vineyards and dropped half the crop. 'He was seen as crazy,' says Meike. 'No one at the time was thinking of quality production.' In 1989 Werner won a prize for his 1987 vintage. Step by step, Meyer Näkel progressed.


The winery is based in Dernau. Gradually, Werner began to acquire more parcels of vines. 'The Ahr is quite small, and the cooperatives are doing a good job,' explains Meike. 'The winegrowers who sell to the coop get good money for each ton of grapes, and it is a small valley of family businesses, so it is very hard to get hold of grapes.'

She adds, 'There are lots of part-time viticulturists here who have fun doing this. Everyone living here has something to do with wine.' Now the Meyer Näkel estate has 20 hectares of vines, made up of more than 100 vineyard parcels.  

Of the Ahr valley, generally, Meike thinks there is no place for cheap or ordinary wine. 'Step by step everyone realized there is no way around quality. It is a small region with steep slopes and expensive viticulture. If we don't make high quality it won't work.'

This is a small family domaine, and everyone does a bit of everything. Meike, who studied at Geisenheim, makes wine with her father and younger sister Dőrte. The wines? They're lovely, with some real highlights. 


Meyer Näkel Blanc de Noir 'Illusion' Sekt 2013 Ahr, Germany
Werner started out making a white wine from Pinot Noir, but it was rejected by the AP because of its colour, so he named it 'illusion', a term he has used for the sparkling, too. Disgorged in December 2014. There's a hint of pink to the yellow colour. Crisp, fresh and lively with lovely pure fruit and a hint of apple. Tight and sophisticated. 90/100

Meyer Näkel Spätburgunder 2013 Ahr, Germany
13.5% alcohol. Lovely aromatic nose of bright floral cherry fruit. Bright and crisp with lovely fruit, good structure and nice acidity. Vivid and pure. 92/100

Meyer Näkel Spätburgunder 'G' 2013 Ahr, Germany
Matured in old barrels. Lovely pure aromatic nose is floral with cherry and raspberry fruit. The palate is fresh, vivid and direct with focused raspberry and cherry fruit. Nice, crunchy, pure and fruit driven. 93/100

Meyer Näkel Blauschiefer Spätburgunder 2013 Ahr, Germany
This is from different parcels slatey, stony, steep vineyards. No new oak. Very aromatic, pure nose. Lovely vibran, mineral, fresh, stony/spicy red currant and red cherry fruit. A fresh, detailed wine that's lively and has good acidity. 94/100

Meyer Näkel Spätburgunder 'S' 2013 Ahr, Germany
This is from he best vineyard parcels on steep slopes, from old vines, from the middle of the slopes (the sweet spot). Aromatic and fresh with red cherries, raspberries, some spice and some herbs. Very fine with a bit of nice greenness. The palate is so pure and direct with lovely bright red cherry and plum fruit, with a fine, detailed, mineral finish. 95/100

Meyer Näkel Neuenahrer Sonnenberg Spätburgunder Grosses Gewächs 2012 Ahr, Germany
This has 18 months in oak, 70% new. Warm, sweet, floral red cherry fruit nose with some spice, and lovely warm, fine herbal notes. The palate has generosity and freshness with vivid cherries, plums and nice spicy notes. Incredibly layers of flavour with fine-grained tannins, purity and generosity. 95/100

Meyer Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert Spätburgunder GG 2012 Ahr, Germany
Very steep slopes with a high percentage of slate. It's fine, almost flour-like slate. Lovely floral pure fine red and black cherry fruit nose. Smooth with lovely finesse, fine spices and a real fruit focus. The palate is structured with direct cherry fruit and some raspberry. Fresh and grippy but with fine tannins, and good acidity. 95/100

Meyer Näkel Walporzheimer Kräuterberg Spätburgunder GG 2012 Ahr, Germany
Spicy, taut nose shows herbs, a bit of toast and tar, and lively red cherries and plums. Textured, fresh, taut palate is really mineral with some spiciness and tannic grip, and also lovely finesse. Pure and fine but structured with it. Still very young, and the oak needs more time to integrate, but it's serious. 95/100

Meyer Näkel Dernauer Pfarrwingert Spätburgunder GG 2006 Ahr, Germany
Very sweet, warm, spicy nose is a bit malty with some hints of leather. The palate is attractive and quite elegant with lovely sweet rounded cherry and plum fruit. It tastes nicer than it smells. 92/100

Meyer Näkel Sonnenberg Spätburgunder GG 2008 Ahr, Germany
This was a cool, late vintage, and the grapes for this wine were harvested in the last week of October. Floral, fresh with green herbs and cherries on the nose. The palate is pure and fresh, with bright, light, juicy fruit and real finesse. Hints of red cherry and well integrated greenness. 93/100

Meyer Näkel Kräuterberg Spätburgunder 2009 Ahr, Germany
Very pure and quite silky with nice cherry fruit. Generous and with nice weight, this is a silky smooth wine with nice finesse. Has lovely balance between the broad sweet fruit and some cooler, fresher notes. Drinking so well now, although it flirts with over-ripeness. 94/100

JJ Adeneuer
Meyer Näkel 
Jean Stodden

See also:

Visiting Germany's wine regions (series)

Wines tasted 01/15  
Find these wines with


Back to top