What is 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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Grüner Veltliner at a Glance
Originating in Austria, Grüner Veltliner is very similar to Riesling.
Grüner Veltliner has notes of yellow apple, green pair, green bean and white pepper.
Grüner Veltliner pairs well with aromatic dishes like spicy vege, tofu and japanese.
Grüner Veltliner can be cellared for up to 5 years.
Grüner Veltliner is lighter in body and more dry than sweet.
Grüner Veltliner is the most planted white variety in Austria.
Grüner Veltliner Origins
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 signature grape of Austria, Grüner Veltliner is the most widely planted grape variety in the country. Its most famed regions are those of Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, where vineyards are grown above the Danube River.
Grüner Veltliner In Australia
Grüner Veltliner is a newcomer to the Australian wine scene, with the first example released in 2009 by Lark Hill Winery in Canberra.
The second came in 2010 from Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills and today, the Hills has the largest concentration of Grüner vines in Australia, with approximately 30 different labels produced. In 2014, the Adelaide Hills Wine Show became the first regional wine show in Australia to host a specific Grüner Veltliner category.
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.”
Grüner Veltliner characteristics
Classic Grüner Veltliner wines show citrus aromas (lemon peel and grapefruit) complemented by stone fruit, yellow apple, green pear and fresh vegetal notes and the trademark hint of white pepper.
The majority of Grüner wines are similar in style to both Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, so if you’re a fan of these varieties, you’re going to love Grüner too.
Facts on Grüner Veltliner
To get around the fact that Grüner Veltliner is hard to pronounce, Austria’s innovative marketers have dubbed it ‘Gru-Ve’ and even ‘Groovy.’
Grüner means ‘green’, which neatly reflects both the variety’s yellow-green berries and its fresh green pepper character.
Grüner Veltliner Tasting notes
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.”
Grüner Veltliner Food pairing
The fresher styles suit many salad leaves and vegetables, as well as being mouth-watering aperitifs. The bigger wines combine naturally high acidity and full-bodied texture, which can be matched to richer dishes such as poultry, salmon and creamy seafood – or classic schnitzel!
Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner have racy acidity that pairs with fatty meat dishes like pork, veal, terrines (and, of course, Kanmantoo Mallee smoked mettwurst). Its spiciness also complements dishes influenced by Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese flavours – chilli heat, lime and lemon sourness and soy umami.
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.”