Croatian Sylvaner Wine: Overlooked White Jewel

Valentina Silović

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February 26, 2024. – As Wine & more writes, exploring the world of white wines often feels like embarking on a quest for the perfect blend of personal preference and myriad options. Amidst this vast landscape lies Sylvaner (or Silvanac Zeleni in Croatian) wine, a quietly captivating white grape variety with its origins nestled in the heartland of Central Europe.

Despite its understated position within the viticultural world, Sylvaner offers an exquisite experience waiting to be discovered. In this guide, we delve into the rich history, distinct flavors, and ideal food pairings that make Sylvaner an impeccable choice for any occasion, inviting you to uncover your next favorite Croatian white wine.

The Origins of Sylvaner Wine

The story of Sylvaner wine traces back to the days of the Austrian Empire, believed to be a descendant of a cross between Traminer and Österreichisch-Weiß grapes. Its cultivation spread across Central Europe, gaining prominence particularly in Germany and Alsace after World War II.

However, Sylvaner’s journey has been marked by fluctuations in fame. While it enjoyed widespread popularity for years, the 1970s saw a decline in demand due to overproduction and changing consumer preferences. Despite this setback, Sylvaner persevered, finding sanctuary in Franconia, Germany, where its appreciation endures to this day.

France also recognized Sylvaner’s potential, especially in the esteemed Alsace Grand Cru wines, elevating its status from a perceived simplicity to a revered varietal. Today, Sylvaner thrives not only in Europe but also in distant lands like Australia, where innovative winemakers impart their own twist to this white gem.

Major Sylvaner Regions: Unveiling Sylvaner’s Diversity

Sylvaner’s presence resonates quietly across the globe, from Australia to the venerable terroirs of Germany and France. Each region adds a unique character to Sylvaner wines, offering a diverse spectrum of flavors and experiences.

  • France stands as a bastion of Sylvaner, particularly in Alsace, where the grape flourishes in the region’s light and fresh wines. Noteworthy is the Zotzenberg vineyard, an Alsace Grand Cru site that showcases Sylvaner’s finesse and terroir-specific nuances.
  • In Austria, Sylvaner may not occupy center stage, but its presence is felt, with winemakers experimenting to create unique expressions reflective of the country’s diverse terroirs.
  • Germany holds a special place in Sylvaner’s history, with Franken being hailed as its premier growing area. The Pfalz, Nahe, and Rheinhessen regions also contribute significantly to Sylvaner production, offering wines ranging from rich and robust to fresh and aromatic.
  • The United States has embraced Sylvaner in regions like Sonoma County and Oregon, where it thrives alongside other varietals, contributing to the nation’s reputation for quality wines.

Notable Croatian sylvaner WINE

Croatia emerges as a hidden gem for Sylvaner, with vineyards from Orahovica Winery producing niche, high-quality wines. Sylvaner is very sensitive to the particular terroir, and it is precisely in Orahovica that it has found an ideal habitat and produces excellent premium wines.

There is a single vineyard Sylvaner made in Croatia – Martin Albus Sylvaner and it’s pushing the boundaries of Sylvaner. Vivid yellow-green, with embedding freshness, and refined aroma, Martin Albus Sylvaner is the perfect example.

Aging on the sun-drenched, southeastern side, embraced by warm breezes with a reduced yield, gives this wine an ideal harmony – a synergy of fruity aromas of green apple, vineyard peach, and zesty citrus.

Pairing Croatian Sylvaner with Culinary Delights

Sylvaner’s versatility shines through in its ability to complement a myriad of dishes, from fresh salads and seafood to grilled meats and Asian cuisines. Its crisp acidity and subtle fruitiness enhance the flavors of each dish, making it an ideal choice for diverse culinary experiences.

It is precisely this richness of flavor that makes this wine an ideal partner for sea bass carpaccio, sushi/sashimi, oven-baked fish in salt, and – “štrukla” (pulled pasta dish with cheese fillings).

To fully appreciate Sylvaner’s nuances, serve it chilled at temperatures ranging from 45-52°F (7-12°C) in a white wine glass. While decanting is not necessary, allowing the wine to breathe in the glass enhances its aromatic bouquet and flavors, creating a truly harmonious tasting experience.


Sylvaner wine truly shines with its light, floral notes, and crisp taste. It’s perfect for anyone wanting a refreshing sip with substance, lingering on the palate. Think about how this underrated white could fit into your next meal or gathering. You can hardly miss it because Sylvaner is incredibly versatile.

Imagine pairing it with your favorite seafood dish or fresh salad. No mistakes there. However, remember that Sylvaner offers delightful still, sparkling, and dessert wine options such as Orahovica late harvest Silvanac Lezerac.

Take a chance on Sylvaner — let it surprise you with its versatility and charm!

NOTE; The article was originally written at


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