Know Your Variety - Grüner Veltliner
If you’re looking for a new white variety to try, we recommend giving Grüner Veltliner a pour. Similar to Riesling, this Austrian star is famed for being fabulously food friendly and with more Australian expressions appearing every vintage, it’s definitely a white worth tasting.
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Gruner at a Glance
If you were to do a wine tour of Austria, the most common variety you’d come across would be Grüner Veltliner. In fact, it’s planted in over 30% of the country’s vineyards. Grüner Veltliner is thought to be indigenous to Austria, but is also widely grown in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The majority of Grüner Veltliner plantings in Australia are in the Adelaide Hills, where it thrives thanks to the all-important temperatures during the summer months. As Rob Dundon, managing director and winemaker at Cape Barren Wines, explains, “In Adelaide Hills, we experience a January average maximum of 26.3ºC and an average minimum temperature of 12.1ºC, for a Mean January Temperature (MJT) of 19.2ºC. It is our exceptionally cool nights which contribute to this desirably low MJT, ensuring natural acidity and more lifted and intense fruit aromatics.”
Rob fell in love with Grüner Veltliner on trips to Europe in the 1990s and early 2000s, an experience common to other Adelaide Hills winemakers like John Tomich of Tomich Wines and Geoff Hardy.
Grüner Veltliner also does well in the Eden Valley, which experiences similarly large diurnal variations of temperature during the summer ripening period.
One of the Eden Valley’s Grüner Veltliner enthusiasts is Graeme Thredgold of Eden Hall Wines, who says, “It is a variety that I believe has wide appeal and can be drunk young or successfully aged to add further complexity and interest.”
In terms of similarity to other varieties, Rob describes it as, “like Riesling on steroids!” To which Marion Labouesse of Tomich Wines adds, “It is a little similar to Riesling on the nose and flavour profile, but with much more texture on the palate. Grüner is all about texture and spices, it’s a very complex variety with hints of lemon and lemon zest you often find in Riesling with an added white pepper finish that its unique to this variety.
Rob also points out that it has “the ability to produce styles ranging from elegant and crisp with citrus and pineapple zing, to fuller styles showing pear, spice and nectarine that still remain crisp and refreshing.”
In Graeme’s opinion, “Grüner Veltliner is considered to be one of the most versatile and food friendly varieties around.” But when it comes to his favourite match, it’s “a spicy Asian dish.”
Rob also goes for an Asian influence, he explains, “Because our Grüner Veltliner shows a mix of spice and pear characters, my very favourite dish to accompany the wine is Asian-spiced salmon with nashi, mint and coriander salad. It is good because the salad has natural crunch, and it avoids an oily French-style of dressing.”
For Geoff, it’s “pea and mint arancini topped with shaved Grana Padano”, while Marion loves “grilled Morton Bay bugs or a lemon meringue pie.”