Depending on how it is vinified, in summer Dornfelder can be a refreshing cool drink. In winter, very dark barrique-aged and full-bodied expressions make the ideal accompaniment to game dishes.
The Dornfelder grape variety characteristics and cultivation
In Germany the Dornfelder grape variety is a very successful crossing. When it comes to cultivation, it has many advantageous attributes – for example it is extremely robust and not overly susceptible to disease. In addition, Dornfelder produces very high yields. Many winemakers prune the vines already at the beginning of the ripening period. Although this reduces the yield, it ensures that the flavours are more concentrated in the remaining grapes. Another key advantage of Dornfelder is that the grapes do not hang very close to each other, which makes them less prone to rot.
Dornfelder began to catch on from the mid-1970s. To begin with only around 100 hectares were planted; in the meantime this has grown to approximately 8,000 hectares. The Dornfelder grape is arguably the most popular and most successful new red wine grape cultivar in Germany. The grape is grown predominantly in the Palatinate, on the Nahe, in Rheinhessen and in Württemberg.
Wine made from Dornfelder: taste and other characteristics
Dornfelder produces peppery, fruity wines with a crisp acidity. If aged in oak barrels, the wine can also be kept for longer. Dornfelder wines are mainly dry or medium dry. It is unusual to find rosé or sparkling wines made from Dornfelder grapes. Dornfelder wines are vinified in different ways. Some wines are kept for only a short time before being released onto the market. With this style, the fruity aromas are emphasized – including blackberries, elderberries and sour cherries for example. With the second style of vinification, winemakers allow the Dornfelder wine to age in wooden barrels. This brings out the structure and tannins while toning down the fruity aromas. Their intense dark red colour makes wines made from Dornfelder visually striking.