So I'd decided I wanted to learn more about Rieslings this summer, and was reading about some German Rieslings when I came across a reference to a red wine made in Germany - a Dornfelder. Red wine?? Germany?? Those two thoughts had never occurred in the same paragraph for me, so I was very curious to try some.
Since red grapes have trouble ripening in the colder German climate, most German wines have been white (which require less ripening time on average), or have been very pale, thin reds. The Dornfelder grape was bred to provide Germany with a grape capable of producing deep, dark reds with some tannins to them. Turns out the Dornfedler is a pretty new arrival to the wine grape scene: it was bred in 1955 at Staatliche Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Wein- und Obstbau Weinsberg, which as far as I can tell is a German viticulture and enology school. The grape was named "Dornfelder" after Immanuel Dornfelder, the founder of the viticultural school.
2005 (Weingut) Anselmann Dornfelder (Pfalz, Germany)
So German wines are a bit of a mouthfull to pronounce - probably part of their marketing problem in the U.S. This is definitely not an "easy" wine in name, region, or taste, so only the vinologically adventurous would likely seek this wine out for purchase.
This wine hails from the Pfalz (Palatinate) region, the largest wine-producing region of Germany. Pfalz mainly grows Müller-Thurgau and Reisling, although they have been diversifying of late, creating more artisanal wines as well as some different varietals (such as Dornfelder).
This Dornfelder was deep ruby in color. The label advised drinking it chilled - 55 degrees F or slightly warmer. This was far too cold for the type of wine I was anticipaitng, so this immediately sent up little warning flags for me - this is not going to be a "normal" red wine...
The nose was very subdued - likely due to the colder temperature stifling the aromas. On the tongue, the Dornfelder was sweet, with flavors fo dired fruits and smoked gouda. There were few tannins - I thought this was supposed to be a "real" German red, and to me that means tannins. This wine reminded me a bit like the sweet Banyuls I recently tasted for WBW #33 - and in this case, that was not a good thing. I thought that a red German wine would be a lighter Pinot Noir-like red, suitable for pairing with fish or lighter fare - not so, with this wine.
I am always interested in trying something new, so was glad I gave this Dornfelder a go. However, I think I was expecting to taste a German version of a Pinot Noir or something like that, and this wine ended up so very different than my expectations. Possibly because of that, I just couldn't appreciate this wine. It was just too sweet for me, especially when I was anticipating something like a fruity, smooth Pinot. My recent experiment with Banyuls made me consider, and this Dornfelder experiment has appeared to confirm, that I just don't like sweet reds unless they're Port, Madeira, Sherry - the fortified reds. So unless you think you'd be a fan of sweet reds, I'd steer clear of the Dornfelder for greener, more fortified pastures...