What is Siegerrebe?
Siegerrebe (pronounced zee-geh-RAY-buh) is a German white wine grape often planted in colder climates like England, Washington, Vancouver Island, Northern Okanagan, and the Fraser Valley.
History of Siegerrebe Grapes
Siegerrebe translates to “Victory vine” in German and was cultivated by German viticulturist Dr. Georg Scheu (1879 – 1949) by crossing Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer. Like its Gewürztraminer parent, Siegerrebe grows well in British Columbia (gewürztraminer is often my favourite wine at most BC grape winery tasting rooms). In 1958, Siegerrebe was given varietal protection and was released for general cultivation in Germany.
Wine Taste and Characteristics
Siegerrebe has blush pink skins, but runs clear when pressed, and leads to a deep golden yellow colour and bright flavour. The aroma really sets Siegerrebe apart from other white wines. There is a typical honeysuckle muscat aroma with a hint of lychee undoubtedly from the Gewürztraminer heritage. There is a hint of grapefruit and I personally find that there a very pronounced fresh peach fuzz aroma that takes me back to childhood summer days (eating fresh peaches; not drinking wine). The sweet fruit aromas make you think that the wine is going to have high residual sugar. However, the wine is much drier than the smell and Gewürztraminer lineage would lead you to believe.
Viticulture and Growing Conditions
The Siegerrebe vine is well suited for cooler wine growing regions, making it a great varietal to cultivate in Western Canada. After the long Canadian winters, Siegerrebe tends to produce new shoots relatively late in the spring compared to other grape varietals. This late “bud-burst” hedges against the risk of a late spring cold snap damaging the plant when it is most vulnerable. There is little risk of a winter frost killing the plant in the Fraser Valley, because Siegerrebe can tolerate temperatures as low as −25.8 °C (−14.4 °F), but there is a risk of hurting the quality and quantity of the yield. The fruit ripens early, reducing the risk of an early frost damaging the fruit.
Siegerrebe is well known for its high must weights (the density of sugar and therefore potential alcohol in the grape). However, there is typically little acidity, make Siegerrebe a challenging varietal for winemakers. Birds and wasps love of siegerrebe’s high sugar content makes it a challenging grape for our vignerons.
Siegerrebe pairs well with light and creamy foods. Below are some great options:
- Creamy potato or leek soups such as vichyssoise
- Fresh fish
- Fresh soft cheese (Try something local from MtLehman Cheese)
- Butter Chicken or spicy curries
- Spicy fish tacos