2017 K.H. Schneider Dornfelder Trocken

Nahe, Germany

There’s probably a good chance you’ve never had a wine made from Dornfelder, let alone even heard of the varietal before, but hopefully that might now change. Despite it being the second most planted red varietal in Germany (right behind Pinot Noir), it doesn’t enjoy widespread popularity and has typically been known for its use in mass produced bulk wines. In the hands of the right winemaker though, a fresh and easy drinking wine that is as tasty as it is complex, can be made.

Dornfelder is a crossing of two relatively obscure German red varietals (Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe) and was born in a German lab in 1955. The vines produce high yields, have good resistance to rot, and the grapes have thick dark skins which contribute to making deeply coloured wines with fine silky tannins. While Weingut K.H. Schneider specializes in white wines, and Riesling in particular, they also make a few red wines, including a great little Dornfelder. Schneider’s Dornfelder is medium bodied (the deep colour may make you think otherwise) with fresh and vibrant flavours of blackberry, strawberry, and cranberry, with balanced acidity and light tannins. The wine is as enjoyable on a sunny Saturday afternoon as it is with your Thanksgiving dinner, and at $25 offers excellent value as well!

If you want to try an even better version of Dornfelder (who doesn’t?!), Andi Schneider made a special bottling just for the Alberta market, made from his oldest Dornfelder vines grown on a steep section of his estate vineyard Domberg, which he dubbed “Super Dornfelder”. Some have speculated these vines may be some of the oldest plantings in the Nahe, if not in all of Germany. Expect more depth of flavour and complexity in this wine, which is drinking exceptionally well right now. Andi paid tribute to the Calgary wine enthusiast (and dear friend of mine) Peter Vetsch, who was his inspiration for making the wine after he visited Alberta and was taken aback by the popularity of his Dornfelder.

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