© 1997 JDM Enterprises
HOUSE OF DEINHARDby Jerry D. Mead
I've said it before and I'll say it again: The most beautiful wine country in the world is along the rivers Rhine and Mosel, a few miles (kilometers, actually) north and west of Frankfurt.
The confluence of these two great rivers is at Koblenz, which is home to the house of Deinhard, a large, still family-owned German vintner, which has only been in business since 1794.
Deinhard is many things, including estate producer, owning some of the most famous vineyards in all of Germany. It is also a winery which purchases grapes from most of the famous German regions and sub-regions, and it is negociant, selling some wines produced by others and, at home, an importer of famous labels from other nations.
If you've consumed any German wines at all, there's a very good chance you've enjoyed some Deinhard wines. Deinhard's Liebfraumilch is one of the best known in the world and its "Green Label" Mosel wine is equally well known and sold in more than 80 countries.
A recent visit of several days in the region afforded me the opportunity to do a line tasting with Deinhard's overall winemaster Manfred Voelpel, whose excellent English allowed me to ask as many questions as I would of any American vintner. I specifically asked to only taste wines exported to the U.S.
Aside from excellent winemaking and fair to attractive pricing, Deinhard is to be complimented for being a pioneer at modernizing German wine labels. One reason it's difficult to market German wines here is that people can't figure out the "blankety-blank" labels, with their listing of village where the grapes were grown, the name of the vineyard, the owners name and the ripeness of the grapes all hyphenated together in confusing Germanic words unfamiliar to us. They intimidate me and I've been writing about wine for 30 years!
Deinhard has eliminated much of that verbiage, leaving only the most important information, and instead of using that antique lettering with "S's" that look like "F's" and all that, Deinhard uses modern, very readable type styles.
A great deal of credit for that goes to sixth generation vintner Nicky Wegeler-Deinhard, who resides in the U.S. and directs the marketing here. Wegeler-Deinhard is a unique individual, so dedicated to promoting the drinking of wines produced from the Riesling grape, that he sponsors a championship trophy for a New World wine competition in which his wines aren't even eligible to compete. Everywhere he goes, he tastes the wines made from Riesling, offering encouragement and support to producers of the classic variety wherever they may be.
Deinhard also recognized the popularity of varietal (name of the grape) labeling in the U.S. and offers three wines with the most basic labels of all.
BEST BUY WINE OF THE WEEK
Deinhard 1995 Pinot Blanc ($9) You don't care that it comes from a region called the Pfalz, but you will like the honeydew melon aromas and flavors, with a touch of almond and an underlying mineral quality. Threshold balanced as to sweetness, with crisp acidity that would make it dandy with fish or fowl in creamy white sauces. Suitable for cocktail-time drinking too. Rating: 85/88
Deinhard 1995 Pinot Grigio ($10) The French call it Pinot Gris, American producers use both the French "Gris" and the Italian "Grigio." This example is produced from vineyards in Baden and has lemon-citrus-vanilla-spice flavors. Forget Italy, the German's have beat them at their own game...it has more fruit and flavor intensity by far. The best food wine of the three Deinhard varietal wines, and an ideal companion to fin-fish or all white meats, including pork, chicken and veal. Rating: 88/92
Deinhard 1995 "Green Label" ($9) This popular and widely marketed Mosel wine is a real summertime quaffer. Winemaker Voelpel describes the fruit as black currant, but I have trouble finding black fruit flavors in white wine. But since I can't put a handle on the excellent fruit flavors...maybe he's right. That lovely earthy-mineral quality that so many German whites possess with a finish that combines residual sweetness with very crisp acid for tart-sweet ending. Rating: 82/86
Deinhard 1996 "Hanns Christoff" Liebfraumilch ($9) This very tasty wine is a blend of Muller-Thurgau, Sylvaner and Riesling from the Rheinhessen. An almost floral aroma and straightforward green apple fruit and a pleasant touch of sweetness. A dandy wine to match with spicy Asian cuisines. Excellent value. Rating: 86/89
Deinhard wines have good national availability, but to track down specific wines contact: Deinhard USA, 4525 Bougainvilla Dr #25, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308 (954) 771-2163
Next week: Deinhard's estate wines and a very special "Best Buy" dessert wine.
Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.