Silvaner from Franconia: a study

This was a great chance to take a look at 21 different Grosses Gewächs Silvaner wines from Franconia. These were tasted at the recent (August 2020) VDP tasting in Wiesbaden.

Silvaner (known in Alsace as Sylvaner) used to be a much more important variety than it is now. Arriving in Germany in the 17th century, its glory days were in the 1960s when it made up around a quarter of the vineyard area in Germany and Alsace. It was a major contributor to the semi-sweet commercial wines that damaged Germany’s reputation, along with Müller-Thurgau, which eventually supplanted a lot of the Silvaner.

These days, in Germany it only really shines in the region of Franconia, where there are 1425 hectares of it planted. In all of Germany, there are 5000 hectares of Silvaner, which is around 5% of the total vineyard. It’s still common to find Franconia’s Silvaners bottled in the squat bocksbeutel, although increasingly more standard bottle shapes are being used.

Silvaner is an old grape, thought to have come from the old Austrian Empire, because it has been shown to be a cross between Traminer and Österreichisch-Weiß.


Staatlicher Hofkeller Würzburg Stein Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
This is precise and limey with nice intensity to the palate. There’s a delicacy with a fine, peppery spiciness on the palate that really works well. Dry and precise with a lovely linear personality. 93/100

Bürgerspital zum Hl. Geist Stein-Harfe Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Good density and texture here with lovely focus to the citrus and pear fruit. Linear and pure with nice intensity and purity. A lovely wine with clean lines, nice acidity. Dry and with some delicacy. 92/100

Schmitt’s Kinder Randersacker Pfülben Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
A very bright, pretty expression of silvaner with some transparency and purity. Great precision here to this wine, which shows citrus fruit and a nice mineral line. Fruity and delicious. 91/100

Paul Weltner Rödelsee Hoheleite Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
This is really good. There’s some of that cabbage character in the background that complements the sweet citrus fruit with lovely purity to the crystalline citrus fruits. Nice weight here. Quite an elegant style, with a bit of depth. 94/100                   

Hans Wirsching Iphofen Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany      
Fleshy and generous with nice weight to the citrus fruits, and a subtle note of cabbage and dried herbs. Nice development. Lovely Silvaner. 93/100

Johann Ruck Iphofen Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
There’s a stony, savoury edge to the fruit here with citrus and pear, and also a slight herbal quality. This is quite distinctive, and maybe a little old-school? 90/100

Bickel-Stumpf Thüngersheim Rothlauf Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
This is very pretty and floral with a delicate texture to the citrus fruit. There’s a hint of pepper, too, with some ripe peach notes on the finish. Very pretty. 92/100

Rudolf May Thüngersheim Rothlauf Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Sweetly aromatic on the nose, this is generously fruited. It has pear and peach, with good acidity, and a bit of sweetness on the finish. 90/100           

Gregor Schwab Thüngersheim Rothlauf Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany           
Nice weight here: lots of pear/white peach fruit with a citrus edge. Some hints of herb and cabbage too. Very appealing. 92/100                    

Rudolf May Retzstadt Himmelspfad Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany     
Very fruity and appealing with a juicy edge to the fruit. Expressive citrus fruits with some table grape and white peach. A really attractive style of Silvaner. 92/100        

Juliusspital Würzburg Würzburg Stein Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
There’s some savoury detail here: notes of wax, almonds and a touch of honey, as well as a core of citrus fruit. Distinctive and quite complex. 92/100           

Störrlein Krenig Randersacker Hohenroth Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
This is quite classic, with nicely concentrated citrus fruits with some fine spiciness. There’s a bit of flesh with nice weight to the fruit. Finishes long and spicy, with some mineral notes. 92/100

Bickel-Stumpf Frickenhausen Mönchshof Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
Concentrated, lively, stony and spicy with nice freshness and depth. Has a lovely mineral core with a long finish. Good intensity to this wine. Really vivid and quite mineral. 93/100

Egon Schäffer Escherndorf Am Lumpen 1655® Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
Attractive honeyed nose. The palate has a sweet edge to the stony, mineral core. Some citrus. Quite crystalline. A distinctive expression of Silvaner. 90/100

Horst Sauer Escherndorf Am Lumpen 1655® Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Supple and quite delicate, but not lacking in flavour. Stony and mineral with a slight hint of cabbage. Long mineral finish: really distinctive and quite special. 94/100

Rainer Sauer Escherndorf Am Lumpen 1655® Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Midweight and very stony in character. Liquid rock, with some citrus fruit. Quite savoury in style. 90/100

Michael Fröhlich Escherndorf Am Lumpen 1655® Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Very pretty and detailed with nice weight. Has some flesh to the citrus and pear fruit. Good detail here and a long mineral finish. 93/100                              

Am Stein, Ludwig Knoll Stetten Stein Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
This is quite lovely. Supple, with a nice mineral core, some peppery spiciness, a long detailed, expanding finish, and just a hint of cabbage. Fruity but with a bit of complexity. 94/100

Juliusspital Würzburg Iphofen Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
Fresh and fruity with nice pear and citrus, as well as some green apple. Has some juiciness. 89/100

Hans Wirsching Iphofen Kammer Silvaner 2018 Franconia, Germany
This is very fruity with a nice stoniness under the citrus fruit. Quite delicate with nice drive. Has some nice detail around the fringes. 90/100

Zehnthof Theo Luckert Sulzfeld Maustal Silvaner 2019 Franconia, Germany
Citrussy, herby and quite bright with a bit of flesh. Candied citrus fruits with a touch of dried herbs, and a nice crystalline finish. Generous fruit here. 92/100

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