Dornfelder (you’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of it before).
Dornfelder is a hybrid red grape of Germany that has been achieved by crossing the obscure grapes of Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe.
The grape does well in conditions that are usually more suited for white varieties i.e. the cold climate of Germany. Dornfelder is the second most grown red wine grape variety in Germany behind Pinot Noir (known as Spatburgunder).
Ice wines, when properly created (which the Dr. ZenZen is), must be made from grapes that are frozen on the vine – no artificial freezing is allowed. In other words, you can’t get a bunch of grapes, throw them in a freezer and try to make wine!
The moment when the frozen grapes are picked is extremely crucial. As the temperature in the vineyard falls, the sugar content in the grapes rises drastically. In order for the perfect Ice Wine to be made, the sugar and acidity in the grapes must find a perfect balance.
Grapes in ice wine vineyards must be hand-harvested, and have a very low yield. This is why wines are usually only produced in half size bottles.
The ZenZen family represents 13 generations of wine growers/producers. They currently export to over 80 countries and produce over 200 different wines! I’d love to give you more info on the ZenZen family, but this is the only noteworthy information I could find. You’d think their website would look a little more “polished”.
The Rheinhessen region is Germany’s largest wine growing region and has been producing wine since before Roman times.
As you may have guessed by the name, the Rheinhessen region is located on the banks of the Rhine River on its north and east sides.
In Germany there are over 130 grape varieties, each offering a unique and different taste. Around 100 of those are used for white wine production, while only 35 are used for red wine production.
30% of Rheinhessen’s vineyards are planted with red varieties, Dornfelder is the leading red grape. The region is also the birthplace of Liebfraumilch, but let’s not hold that against it…
Beautifully fragrant caramelized fruit and honey on the nose. A mixture of fruits dominated with candied plum and black currant on the palate, with apricot, pear and slightly nutty notes in the background. Sweet (obviously) but not cloying, and stays very well balanced with the acidity. Finishes drier than I would have expected, which was quite a pleasant surprise! This is my first Ice Wine review on this site, and the Dr. ZenZen is certainly one I would recommend, although it is fairly hard to find at most retailers.
Ice wine is dessert in a glass, treat it as such when pairing. Try with similar fruits that I describe in my tasting notes, fruit-based desserts, crème brulee, pear tarts, apple tatin etc.