Thomas and Philip Nelles’ wines have made a big impact at our shop, from the name of their top wine (B52), to the striking, bold labels emblazoned with the year of birth of their winery (1479). The vines, mainly Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), are cultivated in view of their winery, on the Heimersheimer Landskrone and Burggarten at the eastern end of the Ahr Valley. Steep slate soils warm up in the sun, storing heat which releases during the night, making some of the wines carry quite a punch.
Key wines in the father & son team’s range are the red-labelled Ruber Spatburgunder and blue-labelled Pinot Noir. Although Spatburgunder and Pinot Noir are one and the same, the Pinot Noir bottling is from a plot of Burgundy 777 Clone vines, which produce smaller berries. Both are benchmarks of silky, supple, sappy Ahr Spatburgunder.
Schieferboden (Slate Soil) is a recent addition to their range, a pre-selection from Ruber, which is the next one up their ladder of quality.
Whilst most of their Pinots are fermented and aged in traditional, huge, old oak Fuders those with the “B” prefix are the powerhouse Barrique wines. B48 now carries the Landskrone GG title, from two plots of vines planted 40 and 64 years ago.
The B52 is Burggarten GG, dark, savoury and powerful. It has long been their highly-prized top wine – nothing to do with bombers, they say – it was simply the number of their best barrel. A stroke of marketing genius perhaps? The name certainly stays with you after the last sip, that’s for sure.
When Philip came back from post-Geisenheim (Germany’s top wine uni) internships around the world, he was keen to make one wine a different way. The result is Ahr 1 – which now replaces the “B” Spatburgunder. It’s an early picking from their best vineyards, Heimersheimer Landskrone and Burggarten & Bad Neuenahrer Schieferlay, with 20-30% new oak. The early picking makes the wine less plump, slightly lower in alcohol, giving it an extra freshness. Fragrant, elegant and long.
They also make a beguiling, fragrant Fruhburgunder, known as Pinot Madeleine elsewhere, a small-berried early-ripening cousin of Pinot Noir.