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The Welschriesling Grape


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About Welschriesling, aka Graševina

(Synonyms: Aminea Gemela, Biela Sladka, Bielasladka Grasica, Glasica, Grasavina Talijanska, Grasevina, Grasica, Groshevina, Italianski Rizling, Laški Rizling, Nemes Olasz Rizling, Olaszrizling, Olasz Rizling, Petit Riesling, Petracine, Rakusky Rizling, Riesler, Riesli, Riesling, Riesling Italian, Riesling Italico, Risling Italyanskii, Risling Vlashskii, Rismi, Rizling Italico, Rizling Vlašský, Talianska Graseviana, Talijanski Rizling, Vlasak, Italian Riesling, Ryzlink vlašský, Welschriesling.)

Background

Map showing central Europe

Welschriesling/Graševina is a white-wine grape originating in central Europe; there are various theories about its exact place of origin, but no one seems very sure. It is nowadays grown throughout central and eastern Europe, and is widely known under each of its two leading synonyms, Welschriesling and Graševina.

Welschriesling is another of a fairly large number of wines, mostly but not entirely whites, that have little repute as dry table wines because they are usually used to make sweet dessert wines. But (as with most or all of that class), when vinified with some care as a dry table wine, it can make good to excellent wine. Other problems that have plagued Welschriesling are one, that it was often in past (and to some extent still today) used to make cheap plonk, which relates to two, which is that it can run riot in the vineyard, which produces quantity at the definite expense of quality. Only by carefully controlling yields can good grapes, and thus good wine, be made. (It didn't help the wine's reputation when, in the bad old days, the Soviets forced foolishly high outputs of cheap, watery junk wines throughout Eastern Europe.)

The prefix "Welchs" means "foreign" or "alien" (the same as "Welsh" in English). Welchsriesling (a bad, bad name, because the grape is not at all related to true Rieslings, but is consequently often compared to them) is what the grape is called in most places; but in the locale where it reputedly grows best and produces the finest wines, Croatia, it is called Graševina, and it is probably those wines that one first seeking out the type should sample. In Austria, another major producer, the emphasis is clearly on the dessert wines the grape can make.

Dry Graševina when young tends toward a light color and a notable aroma and taste of apples; mature Graševina shows strong minerality, with citrus and stone fruit aromas and flavors.

Factoid: Welschriesling is often used, especially in Austria, as the base wine for sparkling wines.


Some Descriptions of Welschriesling/Graševina Wines


Some Welschrieslings/Graševinas to Try

(About this list.)

Austrian wine in general is little known in the U.S., primarily for the same reason Swiss wines suffer obscurity: though excellent, they are scarce, and the locals drink almost all that is made. And Styrian wines are among the least-known of those already obscure Austrian gems. As you will see below, even press and blog reviews of these wines are few and far between.

As is all too often the case with lesser-known varieties, there is a dire paucity of offerings available at retail in the U.S., and most of what there is at all is very scarce, often (according to the wine-search engines) carried by but a single retailer. A couple of retailers suggest more listings, but are usually "Out of Stock" on them. This very brief list is what we could find.

In all cases, caveat emptor: many of these wineries also make sweet dessert wines from this grape, or other price-level bottlings, and retailers' listings (and even the makers' labels) often do not distinguish carefully. Make sure that if you want one of these wines, that that is the one you're going to get.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
Enjingi Graševina
(Croatia.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

Winemaker Ivan Koloman takes Grasevina, inland Croatia's humble go-to grape, and elevates it to world-class quality in this seductive white.

This is a classic Grasevina, with a straw yellow hue, pronounced aroma, medium content of alcohol and extract, and a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. You can't go wrong if the bottle has a Enjingi label on it. After long years of work, self-sacrifice and struggle in the vineyards and wine cellars, the Enjingis made it – their name became synonymous with quality.

Floral and fruity up front with sweet lychee, stonefruit and jasmine flower notes, this is a refreshing wine with zesty acidity and a clean, grassy midpalate that’s just a bit short on concentration. 84 points.

The interplay of peachy fruit and strong peppery mineral is intriguing, but balance is a problem. Dark lemon/yellow in color, there is creamy white peach fruit in the nose, along with substantial peppery mineral and a hint of petrol. Medium bodied, with a creamy and somewhat viscous mouthfeel, there is a great deal of peppery mineral acidity and moderate bitterness. The combination of cream and pepper is a bit incongruous. In the flavors, floral-tinged and slightly honeyed white peach fruit makes an appearance first, but is soon overtaken by an avalanche of peppery mineral and bitter herbs. The finish has modest length and feels unbalanced. Rated Good.

The entry-level basic bottling from natural winemaker and “godfather of Graševina”, Ivan Enjingi. Straw yellow with green highlights; notes of autumn apple, banana peppers, and savory hints of charred wood, sweet spices, and a mineral note akin to powdered stone; spicy on palate with lively acidity and a long, palate cleansing finish — makes your mouth tingle and crave roast pork loin, grilled weisswurst, or fish paprikash.

Floral, unctuous Enjingi Graševina 2012 finishes with a cleansing note of bitter almond. It stands up to rich cuttlefish risotto.

Almond oil bitterness on the nose and grapefruit zest, slightly odd fennel -like aromas, light spritz, and high alcohol crushed cider apple fruit with quite bitter phenolic character. Hefty and powerful. 87 points.

In Croatia, wine makers, and Ivan Enjingi in particular, have shaped this grape into an elegant wine for even the most discerning palates.

Deep golden color. Golden apple predominates throughout the aroma, palate, and finish. Very aromatic nose, also reminds me of baklava (honey, orange peel, baking spices). Dry, full bodied with flavors that also include honey/toffee intermingled with nice minerality. Refreshing acidity and a long finish with notes of exotic spice. This is a delicious wine and at $15, a terrific value.



Krauthaker Graševina
(Croatia. This vintner makes numerous Graševina bottlings, of which this is the basic.)

• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• This wine's CellarTracker review pages.
• This wine's Wine Searcher "Tasting Notes" page.


Some quotations and facts about this wine:

[T]hese grapes come from vines between 30-35 years old, planted on deep clay soils. A beautiful, fresh wine that would a refreshing addition to any wine list this summer.

Although Krauthaker does produce a number of different wine varieties, they specialise in Graševina, also known as Welschriesling. They’ve won a number of international awards for their wines, including a bronze medal for the Graševina Mitrovac 2009 at the Decanter awards in London. Single vineyard, small area higher up. The process for this wine used totally no sulphur, he threw away three out of four lots. Multiple selections led to very low yield. Botrytis was encouraged, and this white wine had a whopping 208 days maceration with no battonage!! The resulting wine has a stunning aroma and bouquet, with an oxidative character, but also fruit and acid, no massive wood, yeast or funny tastes. Good tannins, very clean, very precise.

Very nice, limpid wine with that softly peachy and melon rind nose with a little skin contact firmness. Very juicy and fresh, lots of body and richness, a touch of bittersweet, grapefruit and bitter lemon tang but a terrific wine. They also produce single vineyard Graševina normally, but most went into this blend in this wet vintage. 88-89 points.

Welschriesling’s reputation had already been reappraised during a masterclass on the Croatian Uplands, led by UK wine writer Anthony Rose. Called Graševina in Croatia, an example from Kutjevo made by Krauthaker was acclaimed for its aromatics, rich texture and freshness by Rose. Speaking during the masterclass, which was held alongside the tasting, he commented, “For me, that’s the kind of wine that shines new light on Welschriesling”…

[M]edium straw; dry honey, apple peel; lovely mouth feel; generous, good clean finish. 88 points.



For a Splurge

There are few or no dry, table-wine renditions any better than what's listed above, so no "splurge" opportunities.


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