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Australia's first Dornfelder wins international trophy

This article first appeared in James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.

Australia’s first dornfelder wine has won a gold medal and trophy at the International Cool Climate Wine Show in Victoria.

Tasmanian vineyard, White Rock, released the country’s first dornfelder, a German red wine, onto the market this year and owner Phil Dolan says it far exceeded his expectations. White Rock Vineyard’s dornfelder is a smooth, velvety red with a deep, rich colour.

Last weekend, White Rock dornfelder took home a gold medal and the overall trophy for Best Other Red at the prestigious International Cool Climate Wine Show in Red Hills, Victoria.

“We are over the moon about the award at such an esteemed event on the cool climate wine calendar,” Mr Dolan said. “We can’t believe how good the wine is already because it’s still very young.

“Before I planted the dornfelder, I thought it would turn out okay because our climate produces superior wine compared to most other regions around the world. But of course it’s always a bit of a gamble producing a wine that’s never been produced in Australia before, so when I got it back from our winemaker Alain Rousseau and tasted it, I was taken aback – it was so much better than we had expected.”

Tasmanian vineyards had been limited to the red wine Pinot Noir because of the state’s climate, which is perfect for cool climate grape growing. Cabernet sauvignon and Shiraz can be grown with success, but some areas would struggle to ripen it consistently and it’s not ideal for cool climate regions.

Dornfelder was developed in Germany by crossing Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe and was released onto the European market in 1979. The reason for its invention was to allow cool climate regions to produce a red wine with more body.

“On a trip to Europe to visit my grandchildren, I visited the Moselle region of Germany to find out more about dornfelder and I liked what I saw,” Mr Dolan said. “The pulp of the grape is red so it gives the wine a beautiful colour, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything exotic – just a very velvety, easy drinker.

“We blended our Dornfelder with Pinot Noir to give it some complexity. Because it is so smooth, the little bit of Pinot gives it a perfect edge.” White Rock released its dornfelder at Taste the Harvest in Devonport earlier this year and Mr Dolan has been overwhelmed with the positive response to it. White Rock wine, including dornfelder, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling is available online and at the Lake Barrington Vineyard cellar-door in north-west Tasmania on weekends from November. Mr Dolan will also be at Octoberfest at Seven Sheds Brewery in Railton, the Deloraine Craft Fair and Bloomin’ Tulips Festival in Wynyard.



Rich colour with a good, clean nose. Hints of blueberry up front with a peppery finish. Overall velvety smoothness.

Pinot Gris

Luscious crisp pear and apple balanced with soft ripe tropical fruit. Hint of residual sugar, which offers a rounded mouth feel and clean finish.


Floral lime, apple blossom and nectarine aromas lead to a fine lime juice palate with a lively finish.

Pinot Noir

Fragrant red fruit and spice bouquet guide to a light bodied palate, balanced with blackcurrant and raspberry, soft tannin structure.

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