Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Müller-Thurgau, waning white grape variety which could fairly be said to have been the bane of German wine production but which is at long last on the wane there. This cross was developed in 1882 for entirely expedient reasons by a Dr Hermann Müller, born in the Swiss canton of Thurgau but then working at the German viticultural station at geisenheim. His understandable aim was to combine the quality of the great riesling grape with the viticultural reliability, particularly the early ripening, of the silvaner. Most of the variety’s synonyms (Rivaner in Luxembourg and Slovenia, Riesling-Sylvaner in New Zealand and Switzerland, Rizlingszilvani in Hungary) reflect this combination. Late-20th-century dna profiling by researchers at geilweilerhof established that the variety is actually Riesling × Madeleine Royale, a now extinct table grape of unknown parentage obtained from a cross made in 1845. The variety is all too short on Riesling characteristics, typically smelling vaguely peachy with a fat, flaccid mid-palate, too often with a slight suspicion of rot, to which its rather large, thin-skinned berries are prone.