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The Graševina Grape

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About Graševina, aka Welschriesling

(Synonyms: Borba, Graševina Bijela, Italian Riesling, Laški Rizling, Olasz Rizling, Olaszrizling, Riesling Italico, Rismi, Risli, Rizling Vlašsky, Rizlink Vlašsky, Taljanska Graševina, Vojvodina, Wälschriesling, Welschriesling)


Map showing central Europe

Graševina/Welschriesling 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; Croatia or thereabouts seems most likely. It is nowadays grown throughout central and eastern Europe, and is widely known under each of its two leading synonyms, Graševina and Welschriesling.

Which name to use as the primary heading is a difficult choice. We were persuaded by Jancis Robinson’s arguments that since the wine is wholly unrelated to actual Riesling, use of the Welschriesling name is just pointlessly confusing. The prefix “Welchs” means “foreign” or “alien” (the same as “Welsh” in English). Regrettably, Welchsriesling is what the grape is still called in most places; but in the locale where it reputedly grows best and produces the finest wines—and likely originated—Croatia, it is called Graševina, and it is probably those wines that one first seeking out the type should sample.

Graševina 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. (In Austria, a major producer, the emphasis is clearly on the dessert wines the grape can make.) 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 Graševina 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.)

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

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Some Descriptions of Graševina/Welschriesling Wines

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Some Graševinas/Welschrieslings 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. Thus, 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. This very brief list is what we could find of acceptable quality, price, and availability.

In all cases, caveat emptor: many 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 a table-wine Welschriesling or Graševina, that that is what you’re going to get.

Enjingi Grasevina

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

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For a Splurge

We found no reasonably available Welschriesling or Grasevina justifying a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 22 December 2020, at 8:44 pm Pacific Time.