by Amy Gross, the VineSleuth
With many wines you know what to expect by variety or variety and region. For example, for the most part, a Napa Cabernet is going to be big and bold most of the time. Or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is going to be grassy, most of the time. But, when it comes to Gruner Veltliner, I am finding that I cannot be sure of what might be in my glass unless I give it a try.
Yes, I’ll likely get the classic profile of white pepper, green apples, yellow fruits and stone fruit with some zest, but from there, the range could be huge, from intense to nuanced, from sweet to dry, and yes even from light to full bodied.
Fortunately, I am finding that the Gruner Veltliner puzzle is one I enjoy exploring.
I still cannot pick up a bottle to pair it with a meal or my mood all too quickly, which can be a challenge on nights when I just want to open a bottle of something to go with dinner with little effort. However, enjoying wine isn’t always about consistency and predictability, and when I’m ready for exploration, Gruner Veltliner offers me adventure that typically results in enjoyment. And, as I learn more about the ones I love (and don’t love) I will get to the point of knowing what to expect and being able to pair it with less effort.
At the Snooth PVA weekend in Manhattan, award winning Master Sommelier Aldo Sohm introduced us to 12 Gruners Veltliners, sharing details about Austria and Austrian winemaking. It was a treat for me to try such variation. And, I’ll admit it, listening to his Austrian accent while tasting didn’t bother me a bit, either.
He explained that the Gruner Veltliner grape is the natural offspring of Traminer and St. Georgen, and that Gruner makes up the biggest block of Austrian wine varieties, but that the reds are gaining on it. (I’ve tried a few of those I like, as well.)
He also told us that the Gruner is sensitive during flowering and likes deep soils and the best exposures. Basically, unlike Riesling, which likes to suffer, Gruner Veltliner likes luxury, and the Austrian climate and landscape offers that beautifully. He also explained that one-third of the wineries in Austria are organic and biodynamic, yet they don’t typically mess with certifications, since it is, and has been, a way of life in Austria to respect the ground and enable it to share its best.
I’m sharing my very rough notes on the wines we tasted here to show you the variety I observed. You’ll see a lot of reference to rocks and stones, citrus and smoke, but there is also honey, tropical fruit, short finish, long finish, rustic, clean and effervescent. This is one variety with a massive flavor portfolio!
Please, though, don’t take my notes as instruction. If you are ready for some refreshing exploration, head to your local wine shop and get ready to explore. Grab about 3 bottles (whether on my list or not), chill them, and then give them a try. You’ll know they are from Austria by checking the top of the bottle:
Every wine from Austria has an image representing the country’s red and white flag on top so there is no mistaking.
In the event the pronunciation is puzzling you, here’s how Aldo told us to pronounce it: Grooner vetLEANer
So give a few a try and let me know which ones you like (Twitter is a great way to get a hold of me: @VineSleuth) and I’ll give them a try, too, and share my thoughts right back with you.
Gruner Veltliner Tasting Notes
Gruner Veltliner- Stadlmann- 2011, $15.99
This one of my faves… and inexpensive, too
- from Thermenregion, South of Vienna
- area unknown for GV
- super clean
- slightly smoky undertone – indicates limestone
- Austerity to it, as it cleans up your palate
- Almost like Chablis??
- Lower alcohol
Obere Steigen- Huber 2011, $21.99
- more tropical
- longer finish
- bit of pepper
Birthal- Ebner Ebenauer 2011, $18.75
- citrus zest
- high acid
- gravel component, not as clean, more rustic
Vom Schloss- Graf Hardegg 2011, $17.99
- grown on sandstone
- broader, more rustic
- Keep it on the skins overnight
Kreutles- Veyder Malberg 2011, $29.99
- more opulent, richer, powerful, generosity
- a bit of tang on finish– iron?
- fruit flavors
- slightly savory
Gruner Veltliner- Sohm & Kracher 2011, $38
- not sure what is in aroma, but very different—lime?
- totally different than the rest
- mineral, honey
- Zero residual sugar
- 2nd label, 1st vintage
- high acid
- longest finish yet
- stainless steel
St. Georgener Gruner Veltliner- Moric 2009, $48.99
- smokier, oilier smell
- resembles white Burgundy
Durnsteiner Liebenberg Smaragd- FX Pichler 2011, retail in $70
- tropical fruit
- a bit perfumey
- short finish
Stocklultur- Prager 2011, $90
- green, stemmy, pear?
Fass 4- Ott 2011, $26
- intrigued by this one, want to explore again
- fresh, nice acid, apple?
- Lasts longer on palate
Lamm- Schloss Gobelsburg 2011, $62
- like the effervescence
Tradition- Schloss Gobelsburg 2010, $50
- Thicker, sweeter, but not overly so
- Intrigued by this one, too
Curious as the what the other bloggers at the Snooth-sponsored seminar have to say about Gruner Veltliner?
Click over and check out their posts:
- My Vine Spot: Wines of Austria Master Class
- Benito’s Wine: Snooth PVA: Wines of Austria
- The Reverse Wine Snob: Gruner Love Featuring the Stadlmann
- Jameson Fink: High Line Park and Gruner Veltliner
- Vindulge: So you think you know Grüner
- Wine Julia: SnoothPVA: Terroir Driven Grüner …
- V.I.P Table: My 2013 Vinous Revelation: Grüner Veltliner
My attendance at this seminar was sponsored by Snooth. Opinions expressed are my own.