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The Ehrenfelser Grape


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About Ehrenfelser

(Synonyms: Geisenheim 9-93)

Background

Map showing the Rheinhessen region

Ehrenfelser is a white-wine grape, a modern varietal cross made in 1929 in Germany: it is a cross of Riesling with an unknown partner, long but erroneously thought to be Silvaner (aka Sylvaner). It is still primarily a German grape, though it is now widely planted in British Columbia, owing to its ability to be productive in cold climates (being a quite early-ripening type).

Ehrenfelser was an attempt to develop a Riesling-like grape that could ripen in a broader range of climates. It can indeed ripen in cool, almost cold, climates, but it does not have either the complexity or anything like the aging potential of Riesling. Kerner has largely superseded it in that role, though it makes reputedly good ice wine in British Columbia.)

The bottom line, however, is not the grape’s potential but the actual wines being made from it. It is hard to say how much Ehrenfelser winemaking goes on in Germany and Austria, because little or no Ehrenfelser from those countries reaches the U.S. We do know, however, that its plantings are declining: in Germany in 1999, 630 acres were in, whereas current estimates are 225 acres.

There is a fair bit of Ehrenfelser table wine made in British Columbia, but, again, little or none reaches the U.S. (NAFTA— or whatever it’s called these days—seems irrelevant to Demon Rum, and shipoments of alcoholic beverages even within Canada, and the U.S., are ridiculously over-regulated; cross-border shipment is for all practical pusposes impossible). The B.C. wines seem mainly made in a fruit-forward, off-dry style, which may not maximize the grape’s potential but which works commercially for a generally obscure grape.

Factoid: The name "Ehrenfelser" derives from the Burg Ehrenfels ruins, located on the Rhine near Rüdesheim.

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>Some Descriptions of Ehrenfelser Wines

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Some Ehrenfelsers to Try

(About this list.)

Frankly, there just aren’t any, at least if you’re in the U.S.A. If you’re in (or travel to) Canada, that’s another matter. (Of course, if you want to bring any back with you, you encounter the insane customs laws of both countries, and good luck with that.)

Critics tend to rate this varietal high, but that (presumably) is because of the importance of the icewines to those who fancy extravagantly sweet, rich dessert wines. Chacun a son goüt.


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This page was last modified on Thursday, 23 January 2020, at 12:54 pm Pacific Time.