The Müller-Thurgau is a crossing of Riesling x Madeleine Royale created by Swiss botanist Hermann Müller from the canton of Thurgau.
This grape variety was bred in 1882 in Geisenheim by the Swiss botanist Hermann Müller, from the canton of Thurgau. For a long time, it was believed that Riesling and Sylvaner were the parent varieties, until genetic research finally proved otherwise. Müller-Thurgau is the oldest and most successful new cultivar to have spread throughout the world. The synonyms Rivaner and Riesling-Sylvaner point to the variety’s original (yet incorrect) attribution of parentage. Use of the name Riesling-Sylvaner is now prohibited, due to it being misleading.
This variety grows in all of Austria’s wine-growing regions. Between 1999 and 2020, however the area under vine declined considerably, as did the variety’s significance.
Important ampelographic features
medium-sized, vesicular, circular, five lobes, deeply lobed with twisted middle lobe
medium to large, medium density, cylindrical, with oval, greenish-yellow berries. The flesh has a faint muscat flavour.
Significance & conditions
This variety ripens very early and is therefore often sold as grape must, Sturm (partially fermented grape must) and en primeur wine (wine still maturing in the barrel). Müller-Thurgau is often blended with other white wine varieties to produce young cuvées that are intended to be drunk straight away. At the other end of the maturation spectrum, this variety also produces Prädikatswein whose potential for developing is often underestimated. Müller-Thurgau needs soils that offer deep root depth and a good supply of water. It is very susceptible to Peronospora, oidium, berry and stem rot, Pseudopezicula tracheiphila and Phomopsis. Compared to other varieties, Müller-Thurgau needs increased protection.
Area under vine in Austria
(as a proportion of the variety’s total area)
Characteristics of the wine
The variety creates early-maturing, mild wines with a faint muscat flavour. If acidity is too low, the wines age quickly. Prädikatswein can achieve a very high quality potential.
Source varietal specifications: Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College and Federal Office for Viticulture, Oenology and Fruit Growing) in Klosterneuburg, “Austria’s Qualitätswein grape varieties and their clones“ („Österreichische Qualitätsweinrebsorten und deren Klone“), 2nd, reviewed edition, September 2015
Source area under vine: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism according to IACS (as at 31 May 2022)