Domina is a dark skinned variety originating from Pfalz, Germany.
It’s a very recent addition to the vine inventory of Germany, having been originated only in 1927 by a team of viticulturists.
Over the year, Domina has gained popularity in some of the German provinces.
Domina is actually the cross of two notable grape varieties. What was intended to produce a resistant grape with high yield and quality became a reality for the viticulturists who developed this grape.
However, as has been the case with several other German varieties, Domina never gained commercial attention till the 1950s and 1970s when it first started getting produced for commercial purposes.
Today, it’s one of the popular grapes around Pfalz and Franken and continues to tingle people’s taste buds with its rustic, berry fruit flavours.
Domina was developed in 1927 by Peter Morio, a viticulturist at the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding in Pfalz. Dr Morio crossed Blauer Protugieser and Pinot Noir to acquire Domina seeds.
Today, it is mostly grown in Franken where it’s produced to develop commonly found wines here.
Although not covering large areas, in 2006, some 395 hectares of vineyards were occupied by Domina and these show an increasing trend.
Also grown in neighbouring Belgium, Domina is characterised here with two AOCs –Hagelan and Haspengouw.
Domina in the 1950s and 1960s has never been recognised as being of commercial purpose.
Bernhard Husfeld, a viticulturist in the same institute, continued the work of preserving the variety in the 1950s and ultimately the grape attained protection in 1974.
It was in the same year released for the public for general cultivation.
The characteristic bocksbeutel
If some of the wine consumers here might have noted, the Domina wines are kept in a distinctly flat shaped bottle, called the bocksbeutel in German.
The history of bocksbeutel goes back hundreds of years and is still being kept preserved to fill Domina wines in them.
Stephen Brook, in his The Wines of Germany has noted that this flask-shaped flat bottle has been in existence at least since 1685 only in Germany.
In 1726, the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg declared that wines be kept only in bocksbeutel that has resulted in such a wider use today.
The exact origin of bocksbeutel is not yet known, although historians believe in two theories; one that suggests that the word came from booksbudel that used to be a sack to carry books in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The other theory tells that the name means a “ram’s scrotum”, because the shape of the bottle resembles that of the scrotum of a ram.
Wherever the origins may lie, bocksbeutel is still the primary mode of storing Domina wines.
Since it’s a cross of Portugieser and Pinot Noir, it does not require a specific type of soil to grow, just like its parent.
When fully ripe, Domina produces pleasant, full bodied, deep coloured wines.
It is also productive, like Pinot Noir and high yielding that is an attractive point for winemakers, especially those who would want to get into German winemaking.
It is also a resistant grape, showing resistance towards frost and mildew.
During the crossing process, Dr. Morio kept in mind a grape that needs to be resistant towards the extremely cold climate of northern Europe and possessing characteristics similar to Pinot Noir.
Its sturdiness thus comes from the Portugieser while its flavours and nuisances come from Pinot Noir.
However, yields need to be kept in check to avoid watery, thin wines when irrigated out of proportion while an under-irrigated vineyard will give off extremely strong and bitter produce.
Modern winemakers have experimented to a great extent with the winemaking process.
Oak processing, that was once not extensively used with Domina now finds common place in wineries and cellars.
Domina produces mildly fruity flavours with some strong notes.
As anybody might expect, an alcoholic wine with notes of berries and smoke will go best with Germanic cheeses, sausages with onion and roasted vegetables.
Spices like cinnamon are complementary to Domina and should definitely be tried.
Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂
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