Though Austria’s star white grape is appreciated and adored by wine professionals, grüner veltliner's charm is generally lost on the masses.
Part of that may have to do with fear of mispronouncing the word itself. Own this: Grew-ner Velt-LEEN-er, Grew-new VEHLT-ly-ner, or just groovy GrüVe will all work. If it's not the umlaut that trips people up, it could be the relative scarcity of GV on our shelves. Austria's most sigificant variety is thought to have originated in Niederösterreich, and be a crossing of traminer with a historic variety called st. georgen, from Burgenland, two regions where GV remains widely planted today. Though susceptible towards downy and powdery mildew, the vine tends towards prolific abundance in the vineyard, and preforms best when yields are kept low and soils are comprised of deep clay and/or loess. Outside of Austria, the grape has been successfully cultivated in northern Italy's Trentino-Alto Adige and Sudtirol, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Oregon, California, and here in BC (the photo above is from Summerhill Pyramid Winery's vineyards).
If the beguiling charm of this crisp, herbal, lemon oil slicked and white pepper scented grape isn’t alluring enough in youth, wait until a few years’ maturity turns this zesty acidity into a honeyed, stony and profound wine, akin to fine chenin blanc, sémillon or chardonnay.
High quality grüner can last for a couple of decades or be a refreshing aperitif or partner for your mid-week supper. Amazingly food-friendly, GV shines as a partner for tricky foods like artichokes, asparagus and arugula as easily as it pairs up with weiner schnitzel, grilled oily sardines, or spicy curries.
Here are our Top 10 grüner veltliners tasted recently at GOW that we recommend seeking out.