Sunday, March 20, 2016

Die Hard Deinhard

Way, way, back in the good old days, the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Deinhard had a reputation as the producer of some of the greatest wines in Germany.  Of course the Deinhard family had the connection of marriage with the Wegeler family, and besides the populist Deinhard ‘Green Label’ Mosel white, there was a plethora of single site bottlings from the Mosel and Rheingau, as well as the Pheinpfalz.  The Wegeler’s do their own thing to a degree, but the memory of the Wegeler-Deinhard beauties live on in the memories of tastings who are long in the tooth.  I won’t say NAC is long in the tooth, but he remembers, and even better still has a few bottles stashed away.  So out came two that I’d almost forgotten about.  Memories came flooding back.  They showed the glories of the past can still be enjoyed today.

The wine in nest condition was the 1988 Wegeler-Deinhard Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese.  Nearly 30 years old and a wonderful drink.  Remarkably fresh still with lime, honey and toast, and the sure signs of maturity of cream and custard.  If you can handle it, a trace of kero too.  But the mouthfeel was poised with piquant acidity to balance the smooth, near-unctuous textures.  No trace of drying out here!  In it’s youthful days, it was marked by reduction.  Flint, earth and minerals and a real hardness to the palate.  Too stinky to drink.  But now a great expression of this vineyard regarded as one of the best in the region.  Funnily enough, its behaviour is very J.J. Prum-like.

Not in quite the same condition, but a wonder, nevertheless was the 1981 Wegeler Erben (Deinhard) Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Auslese Eiswein.  A mouthful in words, but also wine.  These freaks of nature always had ripeness, but not the complexity of botrytis.  Their striking feature was searing acidity, cutting through honey.  Complexity comes very slowly to Eiswein.  But at 35 years, it had it all and had moved on quite a bit.  Orange and mahogany to the golden colour.  Wild honey, toffee and caramel.  Layers of aged and burnished characters, but not decrepit in any way.  Rich and sweet, and viscous on front and mid-palate, but still that searing edge of acidity.  Now starting to dry a little.  The wine has a grippy finish.  But a sensational liqueur-like ending to the night. 

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