Bending to the English palate

‘When did you last drink a bottle of German wine?’ That’s how design connoisseur John Blackburn interpreted the brief for German wine producer The Reh Group, which is fighting competition from the New World producers with a new wine in a very different bottle.

Taking its origins from the traditional German ‘flute’ shape for white wines, the flask has more in common with champagne bottles than the usual Liebfraumilch.

The name, The bend in the river, came to Blackburn and Blackburn’s design director Belinda Duggan while sitting up a hillside with the client looking down on the Rhine. ‘It was just like The Sound of Music,’ says Blackburn. Duggan’s sketch of the scene forms the basis of the wave motif printed around the base of the bottle.

Putting the name and description at the top of the bottle neck was simply to do with ‘looking different’, says Blackburn.

The wine ‘had to proclaim itself’ on-shelf, hence the strong design. German wines are second only to French in production volumes, but the industry has been put into decline by snazzier New World lines. In the UK this has been reflected in prices closer to 2.99 for an average German wine rather than the 4.99 we pay for a New World chardonnay.

‘The first taste is with the eye,’ says Blackburn. And the second taste? Well, you’ll have to test Blackburn’s judgement when it appears in Threshers wine merchants this week. He and Duggan were in on the tasting.

Designer: Blackburn’s

Client: The Reh Group

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