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Austria’s Grüner Veltliner continues to shine

Grüner Veltliner, one the most important white wine grape varieties in Austria, is still standing tall after this year’s db Autumn Tastings.

Grüner Veltliner © Austrian Wine / Robert Herbst

As Grüner Veltliner vines became the most widely planted in the 1950s following the introduction of Lenz Moser´s Hochkultur training system, things really began to take off. But what do we know about it today and to an everyday wine-curious consumer?

These days, we see Grüner Veltliner vines planted widely in Niederösterreich and northern Burgenland, yet it holds a revered and admired reputation for quality in several winegrowing regions. While its cultivation decreased somewhat between 1999 and 2020, it still maintains its dominant position across Austria’s vineyards.

The second parent variety of Grüner Veltliner was found in St. Georgen in Austria’s Burgenland and as such was named after its discovery location because, following genetic research, it could not be attributed to any known variety. However, interestingly, the Grüner Veltliner is not related to the Roter Veltliner or Frühroter Veltliner and sometimes this needs to be reiterated.

The vines themselves have medium-sized leaves with five to seven lobes, and a moderately hairy underside. The typical white woolly hair on the shoot tip gives the variety its synonym – Weißgipfler and its grape clusters are medium to very large with large round to oval berries that are green to yellow on their sun-exposed side..

Grüner Veltliner has, historically, achieved worldwide awareness and popularity – especially at the end of the last century and this reputation has made it a prolific variety, which means yields need to be regulated.

As a grape variety, it grows especially well in deep soils and does not like dryness and can be quite susceptible, but in terms of quality, Grüner Veltliner delivers on all levels – from genuinely light wines with high acidity right through to the big rounded ripeness found in Prädikat wines. The site and the yield are crucial to the quality. Spicy, peppery versions are sometimes rather revered as are those wines that offer up stone fruits on the palate.

Lesehof Stagard Handwerk Gruner Veltliner 2021 was tasted at db’s recent Autumn Tastings and on appearance was a medium deep lemon light gold and had a nose of plush ripe apple with a grassy chamomile edge. On the palate, it was fulsome, with attenuated acidity that gave way to a gentle phenolic twist and a long generous finish.

The 2019 Grüner Veltliner Ried Frechau Elitär DAC from Weingut Aigner was also sampled and in the glass shone a gentle straw colour and had a clean and fresh nose coupled with youthful peach notes. To taste, it was dry, with mid-high acidity and medium bodied while also being ripe and rounded with a mid-length finish.

The 2021 Grüner Veltliner Asia Blend Cuvée White is from Niederösterreich and produced by Weinwurm. On the nose, it is very aromatic and floral, with plenty of passion fruit and lychee notes. On the palate it is dry and crisp, with plenty tropical fruits and lifting mango and guava undertones. This wine is also dry and crisp on the finish, well balanced and showcases great complexity.

The Gut Kellerstöckl – Familie Schuckert Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel 2021 was noted for being pale golden in colour and with a ripe rich and intense nose of papaya and mango, that is both floral and elegant. On the palate, the wine is well balanced with stone fruits and an uplifting caramelised pineapple and roasted apple finish.

For the Grüner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC Reserve 2019, it was highlighted how the wine is an appealing light golden colour and is very expressive, offering up an intense nutty and yeasty nose with hints of ripe and exotic fruits. On the palate, it gives way to luscious ripe and intense tropical notes, with plenty of guava and mango and is a compelling example of great richness and density of fruits. It is also well balanced with plenty of stone fruit character.

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