This is a hearty grape variety, which is not particularly susceptible to disease but prone to prolific yields, if not judiciously pruned. It is somewhat demanding of site, preferring soils that are neither sandy or stony.
Like other full-bodied reds, Dornfelder wines – particularly those with some age – are delicious with full-flavored roasts, game and cheese.
Dornfelder is vinified in all styles, but primarily as a dry, red wine. Two quite distinctive types are produced. The first is a very fruity version that brings forth the grape’s intense aromas of sour cherry, blackberry and elder. Other growers ferment and age their Dornfelders in large casks or small barriques, focus on tannins and structure and downplay the fruit aromas. These are usually rich, smooth and harmonious wines with an unmistakably deep color.
Originally developed for use as a blending wine to add color to pale red wines, it is a crossing of Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe.
A relative newcomer, bred in 1955, Dornfelder is already considered a German red wine classic and has been in great demand for years. It now accounts for 8% of the total vineyard area.