Which are some examples of amazing vines

Real - but also better?

Autochthonous grape varieties are those varieties that have developed in a certain area and have been cultivated there for a long time. They are in competition with imported mostly international varieties and new breeds. Since paying attention to regionality is the trend today, the increase could be - drinking autochthonous wines. Consequently, there are also different autochthonous varieties for the different wine-growing areas and regions. The question only becomes complicated when you want to make the delimitations. So one could certainly argue whether Riesling can be considered an autochthonous variety for all of Central Europe, only for Germany or even only for the Rheingau. The older and less clear the origin of a variety is, the more difficult it is to decide. As a result, one can only distinguish autochthonous grape varieties from others if one has dealt with the history of the origins of grape varieties. It should also be borne in mind that, according to reliable estimates, there are over 20,000 grape varieties worldwide. Who should keep track of where and which grape variety is legitimate as a source for autochthonous wines? In order to be able to assess whether there is actually autochthonous wine, one should take a brief look at the origin of the variety of varieties and determine the origin of the varieties.

Variety development

The traditional grape varieties that are used in viticulture today all more or less originate from a breeding process that stretched over centuries. With a strict view, only they correspond to the autochthonous varieties and there only for their area of ​​origin. Generations of winemakers have helped create these varieties. Three essential development steps can be identified for the development of today's grape varieties. The most original process of every grape variety (or family of varieties) is the step in which wild vines are selected from the forests to be planted in vineyards. The diversity of cultivated grape varieties is also based on these numerous domestications and their further development. The vines obtained in this way left something to be desired in terms of yield and quality. As a result, today's pool of varieties was created primarily on the basis of two further essential breeding steps that had an effect on the originally natural varieties. On the one hand, based on genetic analyzes, we were able to determine that crossing in "Franconian" varieties increased the quality, while "Heunische" genetics had a positive effect on vitality and fertility. Both varieties are most likely not Central European, and consequently they would not be definable as indigenous. The really amazing thing is that many of the best grape varieties are a synthesis of both gene pools. Often they are even direct cross products between Franconian and Heunian varieties.

What the Riesling, the Ortlieber and perhaps the Elbling represent for Germany, is without a doubt the Veltliner family for Austrian viticulture. However, in the past the Rote Veltliner and its mutants (Brauner Veltliner, Silberweißer etc.) and crossbreeds such as Neuburger, Rotgipfler and Zierfandler were more of interest, while the Grüner Veltliner became more and more popular in the 20th century. They could all be marketed in Austria as autochthonous grape varieties.

Difficulties with the assignment

The grape varieties have changed again and again in the past and are also a reflection of an era in terms of taste preferences, production options and technical development. The range was mainly supplemented by varieties from other areas. Today, some of these varieties are considered autochthonous, although they are not at all. For Styria, for example, the Burgundy varieties and Riesling were brought into the country by Archduke Johann. Baron von Fries brought the Blauer Portugieser with him from Porto, etc. For Germany, the Heunisch, Orleans, Augster varieties, Honigler, Malinger, Blauer Scheuchner and many other varieties were recognized as historical varieties. However, they were originally imported to Germany and consequently no autochthonous grape varieties.

In the absence of a historical name, the origin of a variety is now assigned to the region in which it is most cultivated. It is obvious that this often leads to errors. With the Sankt Laurent variety, for example, the largest area is registered in the Czech Republic today, but the variety was developed by the Canon monastery in Klosterneuburg, presumably under the name Laurenzitraube. As a result, Sankt Laurent could be advertised as an autochthonous variety in Austria, but not in the Czech Republic or Germany. Many very old varieties (e.g. Mehlweiß, Beerheller, Kanigl green, Kauka blue etc.) can no longer be assigned from their origin, which could mean that they are automatically considered autochthonous where the last specimens were found.

The primary interest of the wine industry in these varieties is usually the taste dimension of the wines made from them. With a greater variety of products, it can also be better marketed. However, it can already be seen very often that grape varieties that are disappearing usually also have defects, e.g. in terms of taste, which is not always satisfactory. Usually the acidity dominates, sometimes at least a fruity aroma is recognizable, but most of the time the extract is missing. Examples could be the white kadarka and the green body. Wines that meet today's quality requirements are rarely found among the old, forgotten varieties.

For a few varieties from the pool of autochthonous varieties there is the favorable situation that they represent a historical wine. In Carinthia, for example, a special type of Wildbacher was found that produced the historic Sittersdorfer red chalk (rose wine). Based on this historical model, wines will in future be offered again as they were in the past.

Autochthonous grape varieties are the answer to the globalization of the wine markets and the leveling off that goes with it. Today there are some international grape varieties that are constantly increasing in area at the expense of old autochthonous grape varieties. These varieties include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, etc. Unfortunately, Grüner Veltliner is also expanding internationally. In the USA in particular, this variety is now increasingly being planted. The variety thus loses the aura of the typically Austrian, even if it remains indigenous there. It is to be hoped that it will then receive a different type of wine overseas and that this variety, which is autochthonous for Austria, will also be able to preserve an autochthonous taste profile.

Conclusion: autochthonous wines come from local traditional grape varieties, they can be very prominent - as shown by the examples of Riesling for Germany and Grüner Veltliner for Austria. Generally speaking, referring to old, rare varieties as autochthonous corresponds to a rough generalization and harbors a lot of untruth, but is used for marketing purposes. If you want to buy wine sensibly, you should first pay attention to the quality and regionality and if there is still scope for the selection, then you can calm your conscience with the autochthonous grape variety.