Riesling Pinot Gris Gewurztraminer Muscat d'Alsace Pinot Blanc Chasselas Pinot Noir
Alsace druvor

Sylvaner of Alsace

Not in fashion

Sylvaner is variety that currently takes a lot of beating. In 30 years, the area under wine has declined from 27% to 11% of the vineyard are. The grape is been replaced by Riesling, particulary on the better slopes.

But Sylvaner also appears to be the current come-back kid of Alsace. From the 2005 vintage, Sylvaner is a grape for Alsace Grand Cru. Well, at least at Grand Cru Zotzenberg in Mittelbergheim, which will help the variety to regain a part of its lost elevated status.

Sylvaner is grown all over the Europe, but has not caught on in the New World. The most famous examples are the steely, super-dry wines from Franken bottled in the green, flat Bock-bottle. As the character is quite restrained, the genetic material of Sylvaner has been used for breeding, leading to crossings such as Ortega, Bacchus, Scheurebe and Morio-Muscat (which I admittedly liked in the early 8Os).

In Alsace, 1 300 ha of Sylvaner is planted.

Body and some soul

Sylvaner gives medium-bodied wines with a lot of brute force and a good body. What it lacks, however, a some type of fingerprint aroma. No grower I have visited has referred to any particular varietal characteristic. From a marketing perspective, this is a tragic fate that Sylvaner shares with the likes of Melon (of Muscadet) and Chasselas.