Wednesday, March 26, 2014

#WineStudio Presents Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties: Silvaner and Scheurebe

Every Tuesday I normally tune into Protocol Wine Studio's #WineStudio Twitter chat in order to learn about under appreciated wine regions and wine grapes. For the next few weeks, I'm more enticed about the sessions since I've received a package of wine from Rudi Wiest Selections to accompany they latest topics: #WineStudio Session XII – Germany’s Lesser Known Varieties from the Rudi Wiest Selections Portfolio. For the next few weeks we will learn about the German production of Silvaner, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Lemberger from the forgotten wine regions of Franken, Pfalz, and Württemberg. Pretty cool.

Last night we started with the Silvaner and Scheurebe wines from Franken, a region located in northwest Bavaria and the only wine region in the federal state of Bavaria. It is an old wine region, dating back more than 1,000 years and known for dry white wines - Fränkisch trocken (Franconian dry). Many times Franconian wines can be identified from the short, rounded and flattened bottle called Bocksbeutel.

We started with the 2011 Graf von Schönborn – Schloss Hallburg Silvaner Dry, Estate (Franken) $20. For those unfamiliar with Silvaner, it is the offspring of a spontaneous crossing of Traminer and Österreichisch Weiss (literally Austrian White) and was once the most planted grape variety in Germany. Silvaner is considered a blank canvas for the expression of the specific vineyard. Schloss Hallburg is currently practicing organic farming (should be certified in 2015) where the vineyards consist of gypsum marl, limestone, gravely loess/loam and layers of clay soil. The result is a dry wine with powerful peach aromas leading to a saline green apple flavor, finishing with a lemon and citrus slightly acidity tail. A noticeably less acidic finish than Riesling, but enough to balance the fruit and minerals - in the words of  Protocol Wine Sudio "elegant, but not pretentious".

We moved on to the real suprise of the evening, the 2012 Wirsching Scheurebe Dry, Iphöfer (Franken) $27. Scheurebe (shoy-ray-beh) was bred in 1916 by Prof. Georg Scheu and is a cross of Riesling and an unknown wild grape. (The pairing was previously thought as Riesling & Silvaner, but modern DNA eliminated Silvaner while confirming Riesling.) The result is a Riesling type wine known as  "Riesling’s evil, horny twin.” -- Terry Theise. The Wirsching Estate has an interesting history, now in its 14th generation, the Wirsching family has been making wine since the 1630's. But it wasn't always predestined. In the late 19th century the vineyards were ravaged by the phylloxera plague that devastated the European wine industry. The patriarch at that time was Andreas Wirsching, who passed away at an early age - possibly ending the family's winemaking tradition. But after WWI, his son Hans returned from the war and replanted the entire vineyards by hand using American rootstocks. In the early 1950's Hans obtained Scheurebe cuttings and planted them into their Kronsberg vineyard. Today Wirsching is among the best known & largest wine estates in Franconia. As for the 2012 Scheurebe, the nose is powerful - combination of tropical fruit and lemon - followed by a pineapple flavor. I mean - a big flavor, finishing with refreshing acidity. This is a very cool wine, ready to pair with your favorite Asian or spicy dishes.  

Next Up, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Cheers.

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