Grapes for White Wines

In every interesting family there are skeletons in the cupboard - a relative about whom "we don't talk" or a neighbour "we don't speak to". The vines of England have Muller Thurgau and the hybrid Seyval Blanc. We do not yet grow very much of the 'classic vines' - the Riesling, Muscat, Traminer or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, we increasingly grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Of the rest, the vines are the result of crossing and hybridisation carried out mainly in Germany which has climatic problems similar to our own. Behind many of these crosses lurks Muller Thurgau, a Riesling/Sylvaner cross developed by Herman Muller of Thurgau in Switzerland. Once, there were large acreages of this grape, but now very few vineyards grow it, prefering Bacchus, a similar cross.
Another of our skeletons is the EEC despised Seyval Blanc, a French/ American hybrid , deemed unsuitable for respectable wine growing countries (i.e. the French do not like it) and is banned from our Quality Wine scheme. However it grows well, is largely disease free and crops every year- hence its nickname of 'Save all'. It can be used to produce an excellent sparkling wine.
What is noticeable is the planting of vines especially for sparkling wine. In the south, this has meant the 3 tradional vines used in the Champagne, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. There has also been an increase in the planting of Frueburgunder, the early type of Pinot Noir.


Early ripening cross of Sylvaner, Riesling and Muller Thurgau . The Germans use it in suss reserve. Most English Bacchus wines are pleasantly scented and dry with a hint of Gewurztraminer and sauvignon blanc. Speciality of the Welsh Marches. See map on Home page. 10% of total planting . Status: Recommended
Large bunches, good crop, poor mildew resistance, harvest Mid-October
Slightly muscat flavoured wine. Popular amongst some major growers for single varietal wines (medium or dry depending on the year) Cross of Wiener Gudedal and Courtillier Musque. Risky but rewarding.
Not everyone loves it. Comments from Martin Fowke of Three Choirs:
It is hell to get started
It's susceptible to frost
it always looks sick
It 'glops' in the press and doesn't have any free-flow of juice
It clogs up filters after 10 minutes
The public buy the wine as fast as we make it!
Status: Recommended
Noble rot in good years

New German cross-(Riesling x Black Hamburg) very popular there as a substitute for Reisling. Buds late and is less susceptible to frost. Wines have a better flavour than Muller Thurgau. Status: Authorised. 2% of total plantings

No resistance, large bunches, end of October
Madeleine Angevine
"Mad Angy" is descended from the French Madeleine d'Angevine and some mysterious German parent - the only known single-parent grape! It first appeared at Alzey in 1929. An early, heavy cropping, grape that crops early and is favoured in South Western vineyards. It grows as far north as Leeds.Many different clones seem to abound resulting in a wide range of flavours. 7% of total planting. Status: Recommended
Poor disease resistance, crops end September
Cross of Muller Thurgau (!) , Madeleine Angevine and Gewurztraminer. Produces a scented tasty wine with a slight flavour of mango. Any wine with this one in is usually worth rolling around in the mouth.
Status: Authorised. Total: 3% of plantings
Spicy cross of Sylvaner, Riesling and Muller Thurgau. This one really is incestuous!
Status: Authorised
Medium crop, early October, no resistance
Bacchus X Villard Blanc.Gf. Ga-49-22 Bred in Geweilerhof Institute Increasingly popular disease resistant vine. Grown by Three Choirs, Heart of England, Wroxeter, Common Wood and several others
Reasonable mildew resistance
Luglienca Bianca x Gamay. Product of the Alzey Institute. Grown by Wroxeter who produce a delicate white excellent with salmon
Good yields with high sugars
Cross of Muller Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine and Calabresser Frohlich. Produces either a dry or medium dry wine with a 'honeyed' background taste. Occupies about 12.3% of acreage
Status: Recommended
Good crop, no resistance, early October
Posh name for Muller Thurgau, - an abbreviation for Reisling Sylvaner. Declining, but still amounts to 13% of total plantings.
No resistance, good cropper, ripens early October
One of UKs best varietals with distinct guwurztraminer and muscat tones
Status: Recommended. 8% of total plantings
No resistance, ripens mid-October, good crop
Siegerrebe Another crossing produced at Alzey from Madeliene Angevine and Gewurztraminer. This is a very early variety with pleasant light floral tones. Revels in Summer heat-waves, low in production and beloved of wasps. However it is well worth growing.
Status: Authorised
Low crop, no resistance, ripens end of September
Derived from a Merzling x (Saperavi Severny x Muscat Ottonel) cross. (N.B: The latter pairing is also known by the technical name Geisenheim GM 6493). Grown at Ryedale Vineyard in Yorkshire, Wroxeter and Ludlow Vineyard
Yields a rich, flavoursome white wine with hints of muscat and honey.

White Grape varieties grown in the UK 1996
(2004 figures in brackets)
VarietyHectares2004 (%age)
Huxelrebe47.53 (28.5)3.75
Madeliene Angevine62.21 (48.4)6.36
Muller Thurgau134.64 (81.1)10.66
Reichensteiner117.35 (88.5) 11.64
Schonburger76.11 (51.6)6.77
Seyval Blanc108.53 (93.7)12.32
Auxerrois9.9 (8.9)<1.0
Bacchus89.33 (74.4)9.77
Cascade2.94 (0.15)<0.3
Chardonnay34.96 (35.6)4.68
Faber11.94 (11)<1
Kerner22.67 (10.3)<1
Ortega29.41 (23.4)3.08

Production2000 Hectolitres2007- Hltrs
White table wine127484754
Quality wine psr19492997

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