The white grape variety comes from Germany. Around 125 synonyms testify to its great age and once widespread use. The most important are Aelbinen, Albich, Burgegger, Elbling Blanc, Frankenthaler, Grobriesling, Großriesling, Grüner Heunisch, Kleinberger, Kleinburger, Rheinalben, Schuldenzahler, Silberweiß, Weißer Elbling, Weiß Silvaner, Weißstock(Germany); Burger, Burgauer, Rheinelbe(Alsace); Allemand Blanc, Allemand Falcun, Alsacien, Gonais Blanc, Gros Blanc, Lausanois, Mouillet, Plant Madame, Raisin Blanc des Allemands, Tarant de Bohème, Verdin Blanc (France); Räifrench(Luxembourg); Burger Elbling, Alsatian, Haussard, Ysèle(Switzerland).
It must not be confused with the varieties Gouais Blanc (Kleinberger), Gros Blanc, Pedro Ximénez or Silvaner, despite the fact that synonyms or morphological similarities appear to indicate this. In California, the variety Monbadon (Burger) was formerly erroneously called Elbling. But there are other varieties with the name part Elbling. According to Dr. Erika Maul(Julius Kühn Institute) the following five Elbling varieties are genetically differentiated. Confusingly, they have partly identical or at least very similar synonyms:
According to DNA analyses carried out by Dr. Ferdinand Regner in 1998, White Elbling is the result of a presumably natural cross between (Vitis vinifera sylvestris x Traminer) x White Heunisch(Gouais Blanc). By the way, Regner suspects the same for Riesling. However, it must be noted that although Gouais Blanc, the participation of wild vine and Traminer is not guaranteed. It is interesting to note that the old synonyms Grobriesling and Großriesling would fit the thesis. The variety was a crossing partner for the varieties Bronnertraube, Elbriesling, Huxelrebe, Pinot Salomon and Sulmer.
The two Roman wine authors Columella and Pliny the Elder (23-79) described a vine called Vitis albuelis (Vitis alba, Uva alba) in their works. For this reason there is the hypothesis that this could be an ancestor and that the Elbling was already brought from Italy by the Romans in the fourth century and cultivated along the Moselle. From the Latin "albus" (white) one could derive "Elbling". Of course, this can no longer be verified, but is obsolete due to the partly clarified origin. In any case, Elbling is one of the oldest grape varieties in Central Europe.
The variety was first mentioned in 1483 under the name Aelbinen in connection with the vineyards of the monastery Bebenhausen am Kriegsberg in Stuttgart together with Frennsch (see Franconian) and Traminer. The botanist Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554) mentions the Elbling 1546 in his "Kreütter Buch" as "Albich" and "Albichdrauben". In the Middle Ages it was still the most common variety in Germany, it is assumed that around 1800 75% of the vineyard area was covered with Elbling. From then on it was replaced by the strongly emerging varieties Riesling and Silvaner. However, it was still widespread until the 19th century and stood with some other varieties such as White Heunisch as a mixed set in the vineyard. It reached Switzerland via Alsace.
The early ripening vine is susceptible to both types of mildew, botrytis and pedunculus. It produces acidic white wines for quick consumption, which are well suited for sparkling wine production. In Germany, the Elbling was represented in 2009 with 576 hectares of vineyards almost exclusively in the Moselle wine region, with small areas still existing in Baden and Saxony. In 1986, the "Verein der Freunde des Elblingweines Obermosel e.V." was founded for the purpose of image cultivation and the 0.2 litre "Elblingbecher" with engraved Elbling grape was created. Small stocks also exist in France in Alsace and Lorraine. In Luxembourg, it was practically the only vine in the late 19th century; today it is cultivated there under the name Räifrench on over 100 hectares and processed into sparkling wine. There is also a mini stock in Switzerland (canton of Bern).
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)