After summer, it is not easy for wineries to meet the demand for dry and light white wines. Despite the early harvest, the grapes often contain a lot of sugar, which easily leads to high alcohol levels in the cask. And they are less acidic than in cold years. Therefore, some wine growers rely on historic grape varieties, which often ripen later than traditional varieties such as Riesling or Pinot Gris.
“For us, Yellow Orleans is a response to climate change,” says Nierstein winemaker Gina Gehring, looking at the large green-yellow grapes from her vineyard in Niersteiner Roter Hang, whose wines are characterized by red mineral notes. slate shimmering. “Last year we had a lot of trouble ripening because it was very cold. But this year everything is right for Yellow Orleans.”
Great advantage for later ripening grape varieties
At the Institute of Viticulture at Geisenheim University in Rheingau, at the end of the first week of September, 83 degrees of Oechsle were measured for Riesling, which is a measure of grape sugar, but only 54 for Yellow Orleans. few places like Roter Hang or Rüdesheimer Berg are given the opportunity to ripen the Yellow Orleans with enough sunlight and the right slope, explains Institute Director Joachim Schmid. “We have been damaged by high temperatures since 1988, but now we are more worried.” Therefore, there are now clear advantages of historical grape varieties that ripen later.
Winemaker Martin Koch in Hahnheim (Mainz-Bingen district) values the Yellow Orleans as a connection to the Cistercian monks who brought this type of grape from France to the Rhine in the Middle Ages. “It is very interesting for us to plant these vines again in the same area as the Cistercians – because of these monks we are also called Abthof,” explains the Rhine-Hessian winemaker. It is understood that Yellow Orleans was no longer cultivated when the temperature was cooler. “But today that’s an advantage.”
The winegrower combines this with a targeted “story” – it is important for a company to combine the marketing of their wines with a specific story. So The Yellow Orleans is called “The wine of Napoleon and the Cistercians” on the label.
In addition to the Yellow Orleans, Heunisch wine is now also grown and bottled – this was the type of white wine prevalent in Central Europe until the middle of the 19th century. “But we have also discovered other historical grape varieties that are more suitable for of warm air than native grape varieties,” says viticulturist Ulrich Martin from Gundheim (Alzey-Worms district). One of his favorites is Grüner Adelfränkisch – “this grape only feels good at 40 degrees”. With increasing temperature, the problem with Riesling and Chardonnay is that the acidity disappears. “Green Adelfränkisch retains its acidity and is a climate winner.”
The production of new grape varieties is not complete
Until 2007, this grape variety, which probably came from Moravia and was related to Traminer, was considered extinct. “It is very important to preserve the genetic resources of historical grape varieties,” says scientist Schmid. “We have to save the entire range in some way – preferably in the field”, ie in commercial farming. The preservation of historical grape varieties only in scientific centers does not guarantee their continued existence.
In his opinion, the preservation of the gene pool that is as wide as possible makes sense because the breeding of new varieties of grapes with the intention of changing the needs is not perfect. So far, the focus has been on Piwis, fungus-resistant grape varieties that are less susceptible to fungal diseases and therefore place fewer demands on plant protection. “A lot of peaches are ripe early,” says Schmid. “Breeding with historic grape varieties makes perfect sense.”
“I love Riesling more than anything,” says Gina Gehring. “But in the future, of course, you have to think about how things will continue.” To achieve the highest quality, he harvests green grapes from Yellow Orleans in the summer. This also helps the vines cope better with drought. He uses unripe grapes to make verjuice, a vinegary juice with no additives or preservatives. “We use it like fresh lemon,” says the 24-year-old winemaker. In the winery, verjus is valued as a non-alcoholic spritzer, and is used in high-end gastronomy for salad dressings. “And you can use verjuice for cocktails – it’s super hip in Berlin.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220912-99-727287/2 (By Peter Zschunke, dpa)