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Muller Thurgau

Muller-Thurgau is a white wine grape variety used predominantly in Germany. A crossing of Riesling and Madeleine Royale, it was created in 1882 by Dr. Herman Muller (of Thurgau, Switzerland), after whom it is named. Few wine experts have kind things to say about Muller-Thurgau, and the variety is consistently blamed for producing the bland, off-dry style of white wine that dominated Germany until the 1980s.

In Germany, Muller-Thurgau is often blended either as part of the infamous Liebfraumilchcategory or with Morio-Muscat. At one point more Muller-Thurgau came out of Germany than any other wine, but in the 1980s and 1990s commercial tastes changed and the variety became massively unpopular. Consequently, much of Germany’s Muller-Thurgau has been pulled and replaced with higher-quality varieties such as Riesling and Silvaner.

Though Muller-Thurgau is a much-maligned wine grape, its role in rebuilding the German wine industry after World War II should not be overlooked. With the economy and infrastructure in tatters, post-war Germany needed an easy and productive vine to reinvigorate viticultural production. Muller-Thurgau was that variety, and although it ultimately led to four decades of cheap and sweet German wines, the impetus provided by Muller-Thurgau gave Germany the opportunity to rebuild its vinous reputation from the ground up.

In the 1950s Muller-Thurgau was so successful that German wine experts visitingNew Zealand recommended the grape be planted there to produce Spatlese-style wines in the southern hemisphere. Again, Muller-Thurgau was extremely important in establishing a serious wine industry, this time in New Zealand, but when the more interesting Sauvignon Blanc grape emerged, Muller-Thurgau was ripped out with gusto.

Varietal Muller-Thurgau wines often have sweet peach aromas with low acid and a range of fruity flavors. They are almost always best consumed young, with the notable exception of those in northern Italy, where the combination of old vines and steep, elevated vineyards makes for more serious expressions with greater ageing potential.

Muller-Thurgau is grown extensively in HungaryEngland and the Czech Republic, and is the most widely planted variety in Luxembourg. Switzerland and Austria also have it planted, but to a limited extent.

Synonyms include: Rivaner, Riesling-Sylvaner, Riesling-Silvaner, Rizlingszilvani.

Reference: Wine Searcher