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Silvaner

Silvaner is a wine with a pronounced, sometimes slightly sharp acidity and a fruity aroma. It goes well with many different kinds of food. Widely planted, it is admired by oenophiles all over the world. Silvaner was once the foremost grape variety in Germany. Today it is cultivated primarily in Rheinhessen, in the Palatinate and in Franconia. We explore what makes Silvaner wines stand out.

Origin of the Silvaner grape variety

There are close on a hundred synonyms for Silvaner, including Frankenriesling, Grüner Silvaner, Johannisberg and Gamay blanc. This is mainly due to the very wide distribution of the variety. Silvaner originally came from Austria, but nowadays is grown mainly in Germany, where it counts as an indigenous grape variety.Monks brought the Silvaner grape over the border from Austria in the 17th century and planted it in Franconia. This area has loam-rich soils, which greatly influences vine growth. Today Silvaner is also planted in the Rheinhessen region, and is established in Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Czechia, and even in Canada and New Zealand.The origins of the grape were disputed until 1998. Owing to the similarity of the word Silvaner with “Transylvania”, some initially assumed that it came from Romania. However, DNA fingerprinting has confirmed Silvaner’s Austrian parentage, namely a crossing between the Österreichisch-Weiss and Traminer varieties.

Variants of the grape

No one Silvaner is the same as another. The original form is called Grüner Silvaner (green Silvaner), a white wine. However, there are also reddish-blue and blue variants of Silvaner called Rote Silvaner and Blaue Silvaner respectively. Ultimately Silvaner remains a white wine, however.The colour designations relate to the grape itself, where a reddish or bluish hue is not uncommon, but they still produce white wines since the red colouring is not deep enough to make a red wine.The alcohol content of Silvaner is usually between 12% and 14%. The flavour can vary widely depending on the region where it is produced. Silvaners from Rheinhessen have far more delicate aromas than the dry, rustic Franconian expressions, for instance.

What are the typical aromas of Silvaner wines?

In general Silvaner has intense, powerful aromas, especially fruity aromas such as pear. These are noticeable especially in young wines. The longer the wine is matured, however, the spicier it becomes. It usually tends to lose its fruity note, gaining instead an earthy, spicy flavour combined with vegetal notes.Overall, Silvaner can take on a diverse range of flavours. It combines a sweet fruitiness with a pleasing acidity that is not too dominant, ultimately delivering an intense taste sensation in tandem with the earthy, spicy aromas.

Silvaner is food-friendly

Owing to its aromatic flavours, Silvaner is perfect for serving with food. It goes particularly well with traditional home cooking and rustic dishes, but it also pairs with lighter dishes such as fish too. It is of course also perfectly possible to enjoy a glass of Silvaner on its own without food.If you like intense, spicy yet slightly tangy wines, Silvaner could be right up your street. In particular, Silvaners that have been kept for longer often have an especially potent flavour. Remember, too, that the aroma of Silvaner can vary quite considerably depending on the regional variations in the many different growing areas.
Farbe
pale yellow with greenish glints to strong golden yellow
Aroma
fruity to tart; after longer ageing: earthy, spicy
Bouquet
pear
Acidity
firm, sharp acidity