Bursts of white pepper, a squirt of juicy peach and a racy line of minerality, these are the characteristics that bring Austrian Grüner Veltliner fans to the table. A natural cross between Traminer and an unknown grape variety, it is considered to originate from Austria and is today the most planted grape in the country. There the best examples are grown at higher elevations in rocky soils on steep slopes, with extreme temperature changes to retain acidity while ripening the fruit.
“Grüner is certainly much more sensitive to the terroir than Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling”, says Bertold Salomon, owner of Salomon Undhof in Austria. Simply put, it is not a grape that can be grown anywhere. However, it is flourishing in all three regions.
Alto Adige, Italy
Grüner was first introduced to this wine region in northern Italy in the 1990s, and today it represents around 65 acres in Valle Isarco. The gravelly alluvial soils on the steep south-east facing slopes provide exposure to the sun and variations in temperature that lead to a medium bodied, mineral style. Notes of cumin and anise are joined by ripe green apples, quince and honey, with a long but refreshing finish, explains Armin Gratl, Managing Director of Cantina Valle Isarco.
Marlborough, New Zealand
In the early 2000s, Grüner came to Gisborne; soon after, it was planted on the South Island. Today there are nearly 100 acres, mostly in Marlborough, where hot days and cool nights give the grapes a crisp, crisp profile. The partial fermentation in older barrels and the malolactic fermentation give it richness and roundness while allowing it to develop over time. “It’s a super aromatic, textured, lively and wonderful food option,” says Jules Taylor, owner of Jules Taylor Wines.
Adelaide Hills, Australia
Wines made from the grape variety from this cool climate region were first marketed in 2009. Renowned writer Jancis Robinson was so impressed with Australian Grüner that she organized a tasting that confronted him with bottles. world class like white Burgundy. Today, around thirty producers produce elegant and intensely scented copies, highlighting notes of pear, apple, lemon and signature white pepper.
This article originally appeared in the December 31, 2021 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
Posted on January 11, 2022