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The Scheurebe Grape


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About Scheurebe

(Synonyms: Alzey S. 88, Dr Wagnerrebe, Sämling 88, Scheu 88)

Background

Map showing Scheurebe’s growing region in Europe

Scheurebe is a white-wine grape originated in Germany in 1916 as a deliberate crossing of Riesling with another wine grape (now unknown) by viticilturist Dr. Georg Scheu, after whom the type is named (it is also commonly called Sämling 88—Seedling 88—from its designation in his experiments). The grape is now grown widely in Germany and Austria, to a much lesser extent in Switzerland, and to a small extent in parts of the new World: the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., and Western Australia.

Scheurebe wines bear some similarity to Riesling, but typically have a distinctly more intense flavor. A quotation widely repeated about “Scheu” (as it is informally and commonly called) is from noted importer Terry Theise:

Scheurebe is Riesling just after it read the Kama Sutra. Put another way, Scheu is what Riesling would be if Riesling were a transvestite. If Riesling expresses all that is Noble and Good, Scheu offers all that is Dirty and Fun. It is Riesling’s evil, horny twin.

As with any grape, Scheurebe needs to be treated well to produce its best wines. The chief common flaw is making the wine from under-ripe grapes. Like a number of white-wine grapes, the challenge in the vineyard is balancing ripeness (for flavor) with sugars (which determine alcohol content); Scheurebe, like most such grapes, is thus conveniently made into an off-dry or outright sweet wine by stopping fermentation before all the sugars are converted to alcohol (if they were, the alcohol content would be too high). Making a high-quality but dry Scheu is a challenge, but, when met, produces some thoroughly outstanding wines.

Typical descriptions of the better wines from Scheurebe include a definite grapefruit aroma and flavor, plus an overlay of black currant. The off-dry types also, unsurprisingly, exhibit a honeyed quality. It is, as noted, in many ways like Riesling but with more intensity.

Scheurebe’s planting acreage had been slowly declining, but that trend may now be reversing, owing to the gradual but definite shift in world tastes away from sweet wines and toward dry table wines. First-class dry Scheurebe is one of the world’s great white wines (and, like other high-acid whites, it can and will age very well).

Factoid: Scheurebe’s other parent was long thought to be Silvaner, but DNA analysis eliminated that possibility; it is possible that the unknown parent was a wild vine.

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Some Descriptions of Scheurebe Wines

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Some Scheurebes to Try

(About this list.)

Scheurebe has yet to catch on in the U.S. market. Though we found nearly a dozen and a half offerings, almost all were carried (at least as the wine search engines show) by very few shops, often but one. Moreover, what is out there is, um, not the cream of the crop. After much tedium, we identified the few candidate bottlings shown below, and one of those is a bit scarce and another a bit off-dry. But it is what there is for now. One can only hope that this fine variety soon or late does get some love here.


Theo Minges Scheurebe Feinherb
(This “feinherb” bottling is often described as off-dry, though with supposedly sufficient acid balancing it. We haven’t found it forbiddingly sweet, and we like dry wines.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” 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.



Pfeffingen Trocken Scheurebe
(They have several more-expensive Scheurebe bottlings; this is the one expressly labelled Trocken, meaning “Dry”.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” 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.



J. Geil “Bechtheimer Heilig Kreuz” Kabinett Scheurebe

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” page.
    CellarTracker has two separate listings for this wine:
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• 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 Scheu wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 25 October 2021, at 4:14 am Pacific Time.