Sylvaner or Silvaner is a variety of white wine grape grown primarily in Alsace and Germany, where its official name is Grüner Silvaner. In Germany it is best known as a component of Liebfraumilch and production boomed in the 1970s to the detriment of quality, but it has long enjoyed a better reputation in Franconia than in other German wine regions. While the Alsatian versions have primarily been considered simpler wines, it was recently (2006) included among the varieties that can be used to produce Alsace Grand Cru wine together with the four 'noble grapes' of Alsace, although only in one vineyard, Zotzenberg.
This dichotomy is explained by the vigour of the Sylvaner vine and the grape's neutral flavour, which can lead to blandness unless yields are controlled. On the other hand it gives a blank canvas for the expression of terroir, and on good sites with skilled winemaking, Sylvaner can produce elegant wines. It has high acidity but naturally reaches high must weights, so is often blended with other varieties such as Riesling or Elbling, and is sometimes made into a dessert wine.
Also Called: Sylvaner, Gros-Rhin, Grüner Silvaner, Johannisberger, Sylvaner Verde
Origin: Central Europe, possibly Austria '
Notable Regions: Alsace, Austria, Franconia, other regions of Germany