By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief


I'm not 100% certain but I'm pretty sure that this is the first varietal Dornfelder I've ever tasted. And I'm a little embarrassed to say that I knew little-to-nothing about the grape.

In fact, all I really knew was that Channing Daughters Winery in the Hamptons grows some and uses it for blending.

So what is this grape, Dornfelder?

It's a dark-skinned grape that was created in the mid-1950s by August Herold in Germany. It's a cross (not a hybrid) of Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe. It is widely planted in Germany, in part because it grows well in areas that are traditionally thought of as white wine regions, which includes most of that country.

In other words, it ripens fully, consistently, in cooler regions and it is also known as a grape that offers great color, good acidity and a silky texture. 

Sounds like a grape that should do well in the Finger Lakes too and I know of at least one grower who is considering planting some (right now only 2 grow it up there.)

In the meantime, Fulkerson Winery 2007 Dornfelder ($12) is the only 100% Dornfelder in New York.

That reputed color is definitely there — medium-dark garnet with a deeper purple core. Sweet black plum and black cherry aromas dominate the light nose, with subtle floral notes and spiciness

On the palate, it's dry and a little Gamay-like with light body, low tannins and good acidity framing sweet plum and blueberry fruit flavors with hints of spice. 

Not a wine for aging (which is good given the synthetic closure) enjoy it now and for $12, it's a good value to boot. 

Producer: Fulkerson Winery
AVA: Finger Lakes
ABV: 12%
Rating:  25 (2.5 out of 5 | Average-to-Very Good)

(Ratings Guide)