Ever heard of Dunkelfelder? If not don't be alarmed - if I wasn't such a German wine nerd I probably had not heard of it either. It is a rare grape variety that doesn't have the best reputation, but it does have one of the coolest alternative names in wine classification: "Froelich V 4-4". Well, if you like to name your grapes after super weapons perhaps. Leaving unusual names aside, Dunkelfelder is one of the varieties that went into the 2005 vintage of "Pur Pur", and so eventually into my wine glass.
Is the Dunkelfelder wine a secret weapon or yet another of these German oddities we sometimes write about?
Overall I was confident the wine would deliver when I bought it, after all Peter Jakob Kühn is one of my favourite German winemakers, so I'd trust him to make a decent wine out of almost any grape. Even so, Dunkelfelder is not exactly the material you'd expect to be made into a classy wine. It is one of the varieties created in Germany in the early 20th century in an effort to either make German wine more climate resistant or bolder. As a "Färbertraube", or dying/colouring grape, Dunkelfelder is one of the latter - designed to make some of the paler German wines more appealing by adding a deeper, purple colour. This, by the way, explains the name as "purpur" is German for "purple", but "pur" also means "pure" - so a double word play in the name.
Dunkelfelder, also knows as Froelich V 4-4 after its creator Gustav Adolf Fröhlich, was entered into the official canon of German grapes in the 80s and is now grown on a few hundred hectares across Germany. Peter Jakob Kühn added 20% to the otherwise dominant Pinot Noir of "Pur Pur" and matured the wine for 12 months in French oak barrels.
And overall I'd say that treatment worked extremely well. First of all there is the colour and the Dunkelfelder touch certainly looks appealing in a great violet with a dark brownish hue (probably first signs of age). I also really liked the aromas coming off the wine - it smelled like a lumberjack coming home after a good day's work, covered in the smell of the woods with some earthy, salty sweat. There is earthy richness, a touch of leather, menthol herb, juniper, lots of juicy black currant and some lightly marinated cherry, a hint of saltiness and a bit of nougat - all rather smooth, blended in a nice, cuddly mix. The wine is almost as flavoursome on the tongue with some substance, a good structure and present but mostly smooth tannins. It may not have the sophistication to reach levels of true greatness but it is well rounded and has character. Juicy in the middle it ends with a relatively long finish that shows some of the tannins and the acidity. A wine not to overthink but to take your shoes off and paddle in it (if I may steal that phrase from MasterChef).
On the second day it didn't excite me quite as much, so from the overall impression I would say if you happen to have a bottle in your cellar it is probably time to drink it now. Although you may be tempted to keep it as it is the last vintage that has the Dunkelfelder added to it - I'd be keen to try the 100% Pinot Noir based wine to see whether PJK has exchanged some of the robust colour for a little more sophistication. However, with that level of enjoyment I don't care about secret weapons or intellectual pleasure, the old Pur Pur drinks damn well.