Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Italian name for several distinct and generally undistinguished dark-skinned grape varieties known as Vernatsch by the German speakers of Alto Adige, or Südtirol as they would call it; and as trollinger in the German region of Württemberg, where they are widely grown. The name Schiava, meaning ‘slave’, is thought by some to indicate Slavic origins.

The Schiava group is most planted in trentino-alto adige in northern Italy. The most common is Schiava Grossa (Grossvernatsch), which was used to breed many german crosses including kerner and helfensteiner, and has been shown to be a parent of muscat of hamburg. It is extremely productive but is not associated with wines of any real character or concentration. Schiava Grossa is also found in Japan and, as the table grape Black Hamburg, in one ancient vine at Hampton Court Palace in England. Schiava Gentile (Edelvernatsch) produces better quality, aromatic soft wines from smaller grapes. The most celebrated and least productive clone is Tschaggele. Schiava Grigia and Schiava Lombarda are even less important. Light Schiava-based wines have become much less fashionable than in the late 20th century when they enjoyed much popularity in Switzerland, Austria, and southern Germany. Plantings are in decline as Schiava has been substantially replaced by international varieties, although Schiava grapes are still found in most of the non-varietal light red wines of Trentino-Alto Adige. According to the 2010 Italian vine census total plantings of all Schiavas were 1,836 ha/4,537 acres. See trollinger for details of the varieties in Germany.