Those of us with long memories may remember Deinhard, a big player in German wines internationally from the 60s and 70s. At that time Deinhard was owned by two families, Wegeler and Deinhard. In the early 90s Wegeler bought the other out. We were delighted to be courted by them recently. “But you are so big and we are so small” – that didn’t bother them. So we thought we’d drop in on their Mosel estate in Bernkastel. Turned out to be a revelation. Famous for their classic fruity Mosels we were delighted to discover that Norbert Breit their Cellar Master also makes elegant, dry wines in his trademark crystal clear, lean style. Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese trocken, yes please! And as for the Bernkasteler Doctor….Lordy! So subtle, so refined. Not remotely showy. It works in much the same way as the finest Burgundy does – it doesn’t kick down the door but creeps up on you.
We simply had to ask Norbert to show us the Doctor, a 3 hectare vineyard on a steep slope above Bernkastel. It wasn’t always 3 ha. Before the 1971 wine law, it was 1.35 ha and was Germany’s most famous and expensive wine. Wegeler owns half of the original parcel.
The story of the name is worth telling. Boemund II was the Archbishop of Trier in the 14th century and was very, very ill. Doctors tried everything. Finally a winegrower from Bernkastel brought some wine from his vineyard and the Archbishop made a miraculous recovery. “That’s the only real Doctor,” he said.