Author: Kristian Kielmayer, Ágnes Herczeg

Müller-Thurgau

Müller-Thurgau

History

The variety’s official name is Müller-Thurgau, but the name Rizingszilváni is widespread in Hungary as it was once believed to be a crossing of Riesling and Silvaner (Zöldszilváni in Hungary). So, in Germany, you might even come across the name Rivaner. However, recent research has proved that is the result of a crossing between Riesling and Madeleine Royale. Hermann Müller from the Swiss canton of Thurgau produced the variety in Geisenheim in 1882. Hence the modern name, which pay homage to the breeder and his homeland.

Viticultural characteristics

Its leaves are large, broad and lobed with deep indentations. Its clusters are medium-sized, cylindrical and relatively dense. It has moderately large, juicy berries. It is tolerant of cool climates and damp soils, while being high-yielding and early ripening.

Where it's grown

It is an international variety that is one of the key varieties in its German homeland, where it is cultivated on 13% of the vineyard area. It can be found all over Europe and was even the main variety in New Zealand until the early 1980s. It makes up 4% of Austrian vineyards and is mainly used for blends and light new wines, for example in Styria.

It was widespread in Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century, and although there were still 3,200 hectares at the beginning of the 21st century, there are now only 1,560 hectares of it left in Hungary. It can be found in almost all wine regions in varying quantities. There is most in the Mátra wine district, where almost every tenth vine is Müller-Thurgau.

What its wine tastes like

It usually produces light white wines. It is rare to find it on its own, as it is more generally used in blends. When young, it is characterised by a pale lemon yellow colour with delicate notes of aromatic grape blossom and green apple as well as aromas reminiscent of wet hay. It is light-bodied with low alcohol and soft, medium acidity. These are simple wines designed for early consumption.

Müller-Thurgau grape bunch and leaf

Wine & food pairing

Müller-Thurgau is particularly suitable for making light wines intended for early consumption. It is most commonly found in blends but has recently become popular in sparkling wine because of its low alcohol content. It is typically enjoyed in warm, sunny months, i.e. from early spring to late autumn. The variety is characterised by fresh green apple, notes of citrus fruit and a hint of meadows flowers. Its lightness makes it ideal for sipping alone or in a spritzer. It pairs best with neutral, light, not overly spicy flavours. Its fresh character means it is best drunk when youthful, preferably within the year of the vintage. Always store in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its fruity aromatics. Still wines are best served at around 8-10°C in a tulip-shaped white wine glass, while sparkling wines are best appreciated a little cooler, straight from the fridge, at 6-8°C.

Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Müller-Thurgau include lettuce, fresh, delicate herbs, spinach, citrus fruit, young, light cow’s cheeses, chicken and turkey, but especially chicken and turkey breast, and non-oily white fish. It would, for example, be perfect with Greek salad, Caesar salad with chicken breast or just with some nibbles like salty pretzels, savoury scones or pieces of plain gomolya cheese.

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