Monday, February 5, 2018

2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder: A Great Choice At Bin Ends

When most people think of German wines, Riesling is the first to come to mind. That isn't a surprise as it is their most widely planted grape and they certainly excel in its production. However, many people know little about the red wines being produced in Germany, despite red grapes occupying about 35% of their vineyards. Part of the problem is that many local wine stores don't usually carry German red wines. Germany's most widely planted red grape is Spätburgunder, their name for Pinot Noir, but they also make wines from red grapes such as Trollinger and Lemberger.

While perusing the wines at Bin Ends, I found a German red wine made from another less commonly known grape, Dornfelder. I'd very limited prior experience with this grape but this wine was inexpensive and I was willing to give it a try. In the end, I was extremely pleased I had taken the chance on this delicious wine.

The 2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder Rotwein Trocken ($14.40/1 Liter) is produced from a winery whose roots extend back to 1846, when Johan Michel, a miller, purchased the Schlossmühle ("castle mill"), located in a region of rolling hills that each to the foot of the Wartberg mountain. The family began selling wine prior to the 1940s and currently the sixth generation of the family owns and operates the winery and estate. Their high altitude, cool climate and limestone soils help to produce unique, terroir-driven and high-quality wines.

The Dornfelder grape is an intriguing cross of two other grapes, Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe, though both of these grapes are also crosses of other grapes. Helfensteiner is a cross of Pinot Noir and Shiava while Heroldrebe is a cross of Portugieser and Blaufrankisch. Dornfelder is named after August Ludwig Dornfeld, who played a significant role in creating a famed viticultural school in Weinsberg. The grape received official authorization in 1980 and is currently grown on about 20,000 acres, making it the second most widely grown red grape in Germany. It is especially prized because it usually produces wines with a rich, dark red color rather than the paler colors of Pinot Noir.

The 2015 Schlossmühlenhof Dornfelder Rotwein Trocken, at only 13.5% ABV, certainly presented with a deep, opaque red, almost purplish, color. On the nose, it was appealing, with enticing black fruit flavors enhanced by mild floral and spice notes. On the palate, it was silky, with mild tannins, and a delicious melange of juicy black fruit, intense spice and nice acidity. It was more elegant rather than powerful, with a lingering, pleasing finish. There was plenty of complexity for a wine at this price point and is was a sheer pleasure to drink, especially with a couple of burgers. This was definitely a food-friendly wine, a versatile wine that would pair well with pizza to tuna. Highly recommended.  

At $14.40 for a liter, the price for a 750ml bottle of this wine would have been about $11, making this a killer value. I already know that this excellent wine is going to end up on my 2018 list of Top Ten Wines Under $15. Hurry down to Bin Ends before this wine is gone.


Robert Dwyer said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I haven't seen this one at Bin Ends Needham - I'll have to look more closely.
I picked up every Austrian and German red they had a month or so ago and the 2015 Karl Pfaffman Spatburgunder is *insanely* good for around $14. Love this category and I appreciate retailers like Bin Ends stocking some of them.
Big box retailers often don't carry a single German nor Austrian red, so you've got to look around for them. So much value here.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Robert! Hope you're well. I bought this just a few weeks ago at the Needham store so maybe give them a call to see if they still have some in stock. And thanks for the Spatburgunder rec!