Grüner Veltliner (pronounced grooh-ner VELT-leehn-er) is a white grape best known in Austria and to a lesser extent throughout Eastern Europe. I’d only tasted the wine a few times and hadn’t been particularly enamored by it. So when I tried a 2-ounce pour last week at We Olive in Los Gatos and loved it, I needed to do some research. This article is the result of my research.
An Overview of Grüner Veltliner
According to foodandwine.com, “Grüner Veltliner, from Austria, has recently become a darling of top American sommeliers after decades of obscurity in the U.S. It likely owes its success to its fantastic pairing abilities. A refreshing, medium-bodied, peppery white wine with stone fruit flavors, Grüner Veltliner goes with everything from green salads to cold poached salmon to roasted chicken. The best Grüners can be quite expensive and have enormous aging potential.”
Where Is the Grape Grown?
Grüner Veltliner is the #1 wine grape in Austria. According to Wine Folly, “there are about 50,000 acres of Grüner Veltliner worldwide. Over 75% of Grüner Veltliner wines come from Austria.”
Winemag.com says that outside of Austria and Eastern Europe, Grüner Veltliner is grown on a small scale in:
- The U.S. in California, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington
- Canada in British Columbia
- Australia in the Adelaide Hills
- New Zealand in the Gisborne, Marlborough and Central Otago regions
I love Winemag.com’s description of Grüner Veltliner: “The Grüner Veltliner grape is versatile and can produce a wide array of wines, from light and quaffable to rich and concentrated. The best dry Grüner Veltliners are perfumed, bone dry and full bodied, with high acidity and distinctive notes of spice and white pepper.” They go on to say that top Austrian producers make Grüner Veltliner wines in a rich, full-bodied style. Wine Folly says you are also likely to pick up these flavors: lime, lemon, nectarine, radish, tarragon, ginger honey and Brazil nut.
As I mentioned earlier, this wine is known to be very food friendly and is especially good with spicy and rich foods. Wine Folly says that “while Grüner wines pair with classic Austrian dishes like sautéed kidneys, its newfound glory is with Asian spices. It’s also one of the few still wines that hold up against challenging vegetable fare such as artichoke and grilled asparagus.”
My Recent Tasting Experience
The wine I tried and loved was made by Zocker Winery in Edna Valley in San Luis Obispo. It is their 2014 Paragon Vineyard wine, and it sells for $20. Here are the tasting notes I found for this wine: “Rich and round but with great acid structure, this wine is steely and has pronounced minerality. It has a bit of an earthy characteristic, a strong white pepper note, and flavors of ripe melon and fruit cocktail.” The Tasting Panel gave the wine 90 points and further described it as “racy, minerally and bright with long, fresh style.”
Why did I love this wine so much? Because of the richness, the roundness, the acidity, the minerality, the raciness and the long finish! After my 2-ounce pour, I ordered a glass and then bought a bottle to take home with me.
I would love to hear about your Grüner Veltliner tasting experiences.
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