2014 White Rock Vineyard Dornfelder

The White Rock Dornfelder is Australia's first release of this dark-berried grape originally created in 1955 from a crossing of the German varieties Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe, both of whom were crossings themselves and which begs the question. Was the variety double-crossed into existence ?
Seriously, released onto the market in 1979 in presumably West Germany, the variety accounts for nearly 10 percent of total vineyard surface area there, second only to Pinot Noir in the red wine grape variety stakes.

Australia's only plantings are at the boutique family-owned White Rock Vineyard situated at Kimberley, north-west Tasmania where conditions are similar to Germany and where there is not a lot of leeway to ripen Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon according to owner Phil Dolan. "I planted the Dornfelder because I had heard that it ripens the same time as Pinot noir so would be a good alternative red variety for Tasmania" he stated. He was not to realise how good when it took out a gold medal and the overall trophy for Best Other Red at the 2014 International Cool Climate Wine Show.

Dolan continued. "The cuttings came from the Riverland Vine Improvement Association and they only had 100 vines, most of which have been pulled out because of lack of interest." 
He went on to mention that their winemaker, Alain Rousseau of Frogmore Creek is doing a great job with it. "I couldn't find anyone to make it as it was such a small crop but Alain said, "Oh, that's new. I'll do it."
He used carbonic maceration to get fruitiness and aged it in oak to add complexity. About 15% Pinot Noir is added for that extra edge, however sales are restricted but mixed cases can be done, Dolan explained.

In the glass the wine is a dense opaque ruby purple in colour due to the grape's red pulp. Floral aromas with blueberry, pepper and smokey notes on the nose. The aromas are fresh and slightly sweet.
There are some brooding elements to the Dornfelder with flavours of tart dark cherry, plum and cloves on the palate supported by smooth tannins and a soft lively acidity. Overall, good depth of flavour and structure to this medium-bodied wine. Velvety, rich textural mouthfeel that flows onto a white peppery finish. 

There's a well-crafted balance of fruit, oak and acid to this wine and it's easy and satisfying to drink. A real privilege to try Australia's first release of what could be a promising variety in our cooler climate wine regions. Excellent.

Source: Sample. ABV: 13.5%. Closure: Screwcap. Price: $36.00. Rating: 91 Points. Website: http://www.whiterockvineyard.com/

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