Welschriesling is a peculiar white wine variety that grows in almost all of central Europe and is known for its notoriously neutral flavour and olfactory traits.
It is owing to its peculiar traits, used to produce some lightly coloured and rather uninteresting white wines that have high acidity, making it appreciably well for blending purposes.
Some winemakers also make fortified wines out of it, in spite of its undesirable traits.
Only certain areas like Lake Neusiedl produce some of the best Welschriesling wines, with lusciously sweet and refreshing textures.
The producing regions of Welschriesling vary across central Europe. From Hungary and Germany, to Slovenia and even Slovakia, Welschriesling might seem to be a popular white variety, although it is planted in very limited quantities, simply for blending purposes.
Only a couple of thousand hectares was its total area recorded so far. Even in its home country, which is believed to be Italy, the vine is no longer cultivated.
Origins of Welschriesling
Welschrielsing’s exact origins remain just as hazy as its regional production. With no specific trend in its acreage and spread about in a very random manner throughout central Europe, the white grape’s past remains fully unknown, except barring its stories and possible speculations of its original whereabouts.
There are several theories to the grape’s past. The name ‘Welschriesling’ in German means ‘the foreigner Riesling’. The Riesling grape is one of the best known white grape varieties from Germany and Welschriesling, in spite of its name, is totally unrelated to the former.
In fact, the Welschriesling group can be thought of several synonyms, some of which are actually unrelated to each other.
The German Walschrielsing, Vlasky in Slovenian, LazkiRizling or RyzlinkVlasky, as its Czech synonym, all pretty much point to a similar grape variety, but ampelographers are unclear as to the variation in its etymology.
Since all these names indicate ‘foreign Riesling’ in each of the individual languages, it might indicate a common root, although there are no genetic and viticulture commonalities between the real Riesling and Welschriesling.
There are several other theories as well. In Romania, the grape is known as the ‘Romanic Riesling’, which suggests that this grape got originated from an Italian region.
There are, however, no traces of Welschriesling’s past or some relation with Italy. The grape was actually introduced in Italy I the 19th century, but was being grown in larger quantities outside Italy, so it can actually be thought that Welschriesling was brought to Romania from Italy.
Some oenologists also suggest some linkage with Wallachia, since ‘Welsch’ could indicate a Wallachia origin. That is again a much speculated claim with no credible evidence backing it.
In Croatia, Welschriesling is known as Grasevina, or sometimes GrasevinaBijela. Translating to the ‘Riesling’, it could actually hold true that Welschriesling is actually not the true grape variety of Germany but indeed came from outside.
From where it came is something nobody is able to even pinpoint as to its nearest location. In Croatia alone, some 21,000 acres of vineyards grew Welschriesling, one of the highest in all of its producing regions.
This could be a strong evidence that the grape originated in Croatia and spread to other parts of central Europe.
Welschriesling is a relatively easy vine to grow and can provide the farmer with suitable yields. It does have its own preferences for dry climates and warm soils, although that does not demolish its productive qualities altogether.
It is a productive grape that retains its acidity and mild alcohol, making it suitable to develop blended wines.
It does not have a taste of it and produces neutral wines, although certain phenomenon like the noble rot can make the grape exquisitely sweet and desirable.
This happens near Lake Neusiedl, where Welschriesling gives off its finest expression, often blended with Chardonnay to give weight to the wine.
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