Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Sylvaner is the French name for the eastern European variety known in German as silvaner (under which name details of all non-French plantings appear). In France, it is practically unknown outside alsace, where it was the most planted vine in the lower, flatter, more fertile vineyards of the Bas-Rhin until Riesling overtook it in the 1990s. Total plantings had fallen to 1,237 ha/3,055 acres by 2011.

Sylvaner may be an old vine and, at one time, an extremely important one in Germany at least, but in Alsace many of the wines are dull, even if quite full bodied with good acidity (unlike many Pinot Blancs). Only specific terroirs such as the Grand Cru Zotzenberg and old vines manage to imbue Alsace Sylvaner with as exciting a character as the best franken Silvaners.