This wine was, is, or will be the the greatest Dornfelder you’ve ever had. Which maybe isn’t saying much as Dornfelder is a grape that usually gets over-cropped and added to other anemic red wines to bolster the color – a natural omega purple if you will.* Here, with the Brand “Cuvée Flora,” we have an old-vine Dornfelder vineyard (about an acre and a half in size) planted a half-century ago by Daniel and Jonas’ grandfather, and worked by the grandfather and his beloved horse, Flora. The horse was necessary given the soil: This is one of the most brutal parcels they have, dense with limestone boulders seemingly bubbling up from the ground. The vineyard is at the top of the Sonnenberg mountain and thus is ravished by wind and experiences extreme temperature shifts between day and night. The site produces very low yields, and thus a singular Dornfelder of ravishing complexity. If this wine tasted exactly the same and wasn’t Dornfelder and wasn’t from Germany, it’d be three times the price. The “Cuvée Flora” is a blend of two vintages, 2016 and 2017. While the wine has the signature inky darkness, it is not a rich or heavy wine. In fact, it is energized, quite lively on the palate with a mineral and citrus-driven acidity reminiscent of white wine. There is something of the Loire Valley here, like Cabernet Franc gone Cabernet Deutsch. Dark fruited, brambly, herbal, the wine is textural yet very fresh on the palate, multifaceted and complex.
* I have to correct myself here (and in the annals of German-wine-dorkdom, this discussion is gonna be good). So Dornfelder is not a teinturier grape; it is not a grape where the flesh is colored! Dornfelder simply has a lot of colorants in the skin, thus the darker than normal color. I was corrected by Daniel Brand, who noted that I may have been confusing Dornfelder with Dunkelfelder, which is a teinturier grape. For the record, I was not confusing anything with Dunkelfelder, because I have never, ever, ever even heard of that grape. Now, naturally, I want to find the world’s greatest Dunkelfelder.