Silvaner is a grape variant used exclusively in the production of white wine in the western part of Germany.
This wine grape, which is underrated, maybe due to its neutral scent, is widely cultivated in the Rhine region of Alsace, which falls along the western part of Germany, and it is known as Sylvaner in the local dialect.
This grape is also found in small quantities in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy, where it is considered a specialty in the Isarco Valley.
History of Silvaner Grape
Silvaner is a very ancient variety which has been grown along the central part of Europe in Transylvania.
It is basically a crossing between Traminer and a little known variety of grapes called as Osterreichisch Weiss.
The crossing of the two variants is thought to have happened somewhere in the eastern part of Austria, and hence this place being considered to be the birthplace of this grape.
And though this grape has very little presence today in Austria, this grape is quite popular in its neighbouring country of Germany.
This grape variant is thought to have made its way in the seventh century in Germany, and from there it went to Alsace, where it became popular after the Second World War.
This variety, however over a period of time got mutated as far as colour is concerned, which are known by the names as Roter Silvaner and Blaauer Silvaner, which are so different, they are practically indistinguishable.
Regions where Silvaner is grown
According to the research done in 2013, Silvaner vines cover somewhere close to 12,600 acres or 5100 ha of area in Germany, giving it a rank of third best grape variety used in the production of white wine, only to fall below Riesling & Müller-Thurgau.
Along with this, this grape is also cultivated in France, Austria, Croatia, France, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, United States and Canada.
Viticulture of Silvaner
Silvaner grape leaves are Pentagonal shaped having five lobes with a slight sinuate, wavy structure.
These leaves have large, serrated edges which give the leaves a smooth or a light bubbled shape.
When it comes to the bunch, the bunch appears compact and medium sized having a cylindrical or a cylindrical conical shape.
As far as grape is concerned, it appears spherical, medium sized with green and brown specks which turns golden yellow in good light conditions.
The grape has a thick skin and gives a slightly acidic, but a neutral flavour. When it comes to the ripening season, it has an early ripening season due to which the risk of being damaged due to early winter frost is avoided.
This grape though prefers clay soils with a high limestone content, it can practically grow in a wide range of surroundings.
Characteristics of Silvaner wine
In Alsace, where this grape is quite popular, Sylvaner wines give a distinct full body style of wine along with a whiff of smoke and earth on the nose, and a dash of scant fruit flavour.
The classic Silvaner of Würzburger Stein is well rounded with quite an impressive minerality, along with slight herbal notes & hints of citrus & melon.
Italian & Swiss Silvaners are much lighter offering a crisper flavour over their counterparts from Franken and Alsace region, with slight citrusy notes & a tinge of pale honey flavour.
These wines are at their best when opened within the first 2 years after the vintage.
Taste and flavors of Silvaner Wine
When it comes to the appearance, this wine appears clear in colour with a revealing green tinge which emphasizes the characteristic freshness.
On the nose, this grape appears quite light and fresh and offers a bouquet which is fruity as well as floral with fragrances of citrus fruits, freshly cut grass and white flowers.
On the palate, this grape appears quite pleasant and open structured around thirst quenching freshness.
The light to medium bodied palate of this wine appears fleshy with a gentle, bittersweet, peach flavour covered with a slight but distinct tang.
Dry and true, this wine is a refreshing substitute to Sauvignon Blanc.
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