Müller- Thurgau Marvels: Meet one of Oregon’s cult grapes

“I don’t get no respect.” Like the trademark line from comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the Müller-Thurgau grape could say the same. That is, if grapes could talk. In Germany, Müller-Thurgau was used as a bulk wine for over a century. Dare we remember the Blue Nun of the 1970s? But in Oregon, it’s still uncommon. Producers who have invested in this grape, are developing an expanding fan base.

Making Sense of Müller

According to history, in 1882, Swiss botanist, oenologist and grape breeder Dr. Hermann Müller crossed the noble Riesling grape with a table grape called Madeleine Royale. This combination created Müller-Thurgau. German growers quickly embraced the new variety. It ripened early, before the fall rains, producing relatively high yields. Plants also thrived in a variety of soil types and climates. Unfortunately, the wines made from those high yields were low in acid with very little character. Germany’s reputation for wine subsequently plunged, at least for a time.

Though still popular for production of wines like Liebfraumilch in the 1970s and 80s, German producers began to favor Riesling and Spätburgunder. Places like Alto Adige, Italy, however, proved Müller-Thurgau could create a compelling wine.

“Just because Müller-Thurgau isn’t a popular grape to grow doesn’t mean we should forget it’s heritage,” says Montinore Estate’s head winemaker Stephen Webber. Montinore has its own 40-year history with Müller. Webber feels if Oregon were starting on its wine development now, it might well be deemed… click here to read the complete story on Oregon Wine Press.

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