Magnus, you're right in saying that German Spätburgunder is really expensive. This is why I mostly drink non-German red wine as I think that other country's wines offer a better price-quality ration. However, if you look at prices in Burgundy, then top Spätburgunder is not that overpriced in comparison.
If you like Spätburgunder, just try Frühburgunder: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinot_Noir_Pr%C3%A9coce
You can get 9 of them at the Kölner Weinkeller. Like Spätburgunder, Frühburgunder is best after some years in bottle (probably best 10 years after the harvest).
Other good Ahr producers are:
- J.J. Adeneuer (http://www.adeneuer.de
, I visited them last October and really thought that even their basic [say 15-20 €] wines are pretty good and will age well for some years and thus improve)
- Deutzerhof (http://www.deutzerhof.de/
, you can get them at the Kölner Weinkeller)
- Kreuzberg (http://www.weingut-kreuzberg.de
, you can get them at the Kölner Weinkeller)
- Nelles (http://www.weingut-nelles.de
- Stodden (http://www.stodden.de
In the Ahr valley you can also get a white wine made from Pinot Noir, called Blanc de Noir. This is a fruity (not in the sense of sweet) wine for the summer. It's one of my house wines for everyday.
Phil is right in suggesting a look at the Kölner Weinkeller. They have a huge collection of Riesling and their shipping rates to the UK are really good.
Other merchants you might want to have a look at are:
- Kierdorf Wein: They offer aged wines at fair prices. I have not bought from them before, but know people who did and were satisfied with their service. But I don't know how their shipping rates to the UK are like.
Their website is http://www.kierdorfwein.de
, you can find their price list here: http://www.kierdorfwein.de/pages/weinan ... sliste.pdf
(starting at around page 53, by the way: they also have a 07 Keller Spätburgunder for 26,80 €.)
- Bremer Ratskeller: they sell only German wine and offer some older vintages as well (I got the 04 Montosa from them). I don't know what their shipping rates are to the UK, but given that they're quite high within Germany (7,95 € if you order for less than 250 €) they might also charge more for deliveries abroad. Their website is: http://www.ratskeller.de
- Belvini: I've not ordered from them but they have quite a big choice of wines and seem to have reasonable shipping rates, too: http://www.belvini.de
- Ahrweinshop: As you're interested in Ahr wines, you might have a look at a shop that specialises in these wines: http://www.ahrweinshop.de
- Deutsche Weine: a shop specialised in German Wine: http://www.deutsche-weine.com/
I've not ordered from them as I can get most wines in local shops here in Cologne, but you might have a look at them.
As Phil mentioned, you can get very good Rieslings in the 10-20 Euro price range. In fact, my house Rieslings for everyday are in the 7-9 € price range. So there is really much fun to have below the GG range. I personally don't really like the GGs as they're a completely different style of wine than there used to be. The trend for ever more full-bodied and high-alcohol wines has turned many lovely Rieslings into fat monsters. It's like turning slim prima ballerinas into a female shot-putters.
As to the Rheingau:
Phil, you picked the only Robert Weil wine that has a decent price-quality ratio. But they hardly market their sparkling wine. When I visited them last August with Daniel I was surprised that they made a sparkling wine at all as I had not seen it anywhere before (they don't even mention it on their website in the section on the wines they produce). When I told the salesperson about this, he told me that they somehow make the sparkling wine almost for themselves and hardly produce more than 2000 (if I remember correctly) bottles each year (or have them produced by a sparkling wine specialist in Rheinhessen). So the bottle I sent you (i.e.Phil) is not really representative of RW.
Speaking of wineries where you have to pay a premium for the big name: Schloss Johannisberg is the same as RW. Overpriced for what they offer. So beware of them, too.
I can really recommend the following producers:
- Georg Breuer: in my view the best producer of the Rheingau. I can especially recommend the Terra Montosa and the Rüdesheim Estate:
http://www.georg-breuer.com/index.php?s ... tsriesling
I would drink them at around 5 years of age when they're not yet fully mature, but not young anymore either. Phil likes his Montosa fully mature at ten years, but then they lack the acididty that I personally like so much.
- Künstler: This is also another good producer in the eastern Rheingau. I especially like their Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Kabinett trocken. Their website is http://www.weingut-kuenstler.de
- Kloster Eberbach: This is Germany's biggest winery which exclusively owns the famous Steinberg vineyard (the wine Phil mentioned). As this is a quite big winery, the quality could be better (it's good, but given the top vineyards they have they could do better). Phil and I really like the Steinberg Riesling and can only recommend it to you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steinberg, ... r_Eberbach
https://www.weingut-kloster-eberbach.de ... ocken?c=30
(I think the sweet Steinbergers are even better made than the dry one, so also look at the Steinberg Kabinett and Spätlese too)
- Wegeler: An estate that has holdings both in the Mosel (they own some parcels of the famous "Doctor" vineyard) and Rheingau. I can recommend the following wines:
Geheimrat J http://www.wegeler.com/en/rheingau-esta ... rat-j.html
(Charta wines are made by other wineries, too. They're kind of old-fashioned nowadays, but offer exelent value for money. They price range is between 10 to 15 Euros. I drink them with around 5 years of age.)
Wegeler also offers small batches of already aged sweet wines for hardly more then the en primeur price of the recent vintage: http://www.wegeler.com/en/the-estates/v ... sling.html
Two small but upcoming producers to round out the picture:
- August Eser: this is not yet in the top League, but showing promise. Good value for money. I especially like their Oestrich Lenchen Riesling Kabinett Trocken and their Rauenthaler Rothenberg Riesling Steillage Trocken. More info: http://www.eser-wein.de
- Barth: I like their Charta Riesling. They make good sparkling wine, too: http://weingut-barth.de/
Speaking of sparkling wine, the best two in my view are Schloß Vaux (I like their Steinberger Sekt, http://www.schloss-vaux.de
) and Raumland (I especially like their Cuvée Marie-Luise Brut, Blanc de Noir, http://www.raumland.de
I hope this mass of information is not too much. Have fun trying some new wines.