Among new varieties, the Dornfelder shows great promise.
A prolific, relatively early ripener, it produces wine far deeper in color than is typical of German reds. In fact, it was initially bred (1955, in Württemberg) to serve as a blending wine to improve the color of pale reds. Today it is prized on its own as a fragrant, full-bodied, complex wine with a fairly tannic acidity.
The Dornfelder wines fermented and/or aged in oak casks (including Barriques), in particular, fetch high prices. From 124 ha in 1979, the vineyard area has expanded to 2,599 ha in 1997, moving Dornfelder into third place (after Spätburgunder and Portugieser) among red wine grapes grown in Germany. The Pfalz and Rheinhessen regions have the most plantings.