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Silvaner - the Sleeping Beauty of grapes awakened from its slumber

Do you know which grape variety is behind the Johannisberg wine from Valais? It is Silvaner, which is less well-known than the white wine itself. For more than 50 years, Johannisberg has been a protected designation in Switzerland's biggest wine-growing region. Since 1985, the cultivation of the grapes has been restricted to the best zones: the reason was, and still is, sluggish sales.
Thus the variety shares the same fate here as in other countries: it is seldom in the public eye in the same way as the likes of Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. This is a real shame, because Silvaner has plenty of character and all the traits typical of high-quality wines. A few producers have recognized this, and they intend to awaken this Sleeping Beauty from its slumber.
One of its strongholds is Germany. Around 4,700 hectares, or 4.6 % of the total surface area, are planted with Silvaner. It is popular in the Rhine-Hesse and Franconia wine-making regions. To reach its full potential, the variety needs good to very good locations. Like a Riesling, its terroir can be very evident in the wine. However, what distinguishes Silvaner from this famous variety is its less pronounced acidity, resulting in more rounded, lighter wines. They are also distinctive for their subtle nose, reminiscent of herbs, gooseberries, or even fresh hay. When the grapes grow on heavy soils, the resulting wine can be extremely full-bodied. Ideally, Silvaner is aged in steel tanks or large wooden casks. Like Riesling, it does not lend itself well to barriques.
For the Bernhard estate in Rhine-Hesse, Silvaner is a particular favourite. Martina Bernhard, who runs the family business with her father Jörg, describes the variety as “dear to my heart”. The well-established duo aim to press expressive wines that bear their signature. The Edition Peter Keller is a high-quality special bottling at an unbeatable price, from a prime location with a 2018 vintage (CHF 19.95). Just 360 bottles are exclusively available at Mondovino. They are proof of Silvaner's exceptional potential, and that this Sleeping Beauty has awakened from its slumber.