When a hankering for white wine descends, few reach out for a glass of grüner veltliner. “Grüner who?” Yes, grüner veltliner (pronounced groo-ner felt-lee-ner). “Why hasn’t anyone heard of grüner veltliner?” Even though grüner veltliner comprises more than a third of Austria’s annual wine production, it is predominantly consumed domestically, over three-quarters of it actually. Lucky for those on this side of the planet, the groo-vee, as it was once dubbed, that is exported has a tendency to be of very high quality thus making it a fantastic drink for pretty much any occasion. If flexibility could be born, it would come in the shape of grüner veltliner. With its interesting aromatics and high acidity, grüner veltliner is wonderful as an aperitif and marries seamlessly with a multitude of cuisines; pair it HW-style, and it would be best enjoyed alongside a luxurious seafood plateau with poached lobster, oysters and clams on the half shell and crab cakes.
Generally, the best grüners are produced by small family estates and grown in three small district along the Danube: the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal. The Wachau, famous for producing powerful dry Rieslings, replicates this power and structure in grüner while more elegant and classic grüners are made in the Kremstal and Kamptal regions. Like Riesling, GV’s possess many interesting aromatic and flavor characteristics as well as very high acidity, which gives them the necessary structure for aging. Cellaring the best grüners allows them to age gracefully and develop seductive aromatics and incredible complexity; in some cases, a top aged, grüner can resemble an aged white Burgundy.
Whether young, old, light or rich, grüner veltliner is always the center of attention, a conversation starter and bound to make new friends. This week’s Haute Wines picks features three GV’s sure to turn some heads.
Brandl, Grüner Veltliner Pfaffenberg, Kamptal, 2007 – Citrus, citrus, citrus…grapefruit, lemons, limes, tons of minerality and smoky, hazelnut flavors. Zippy and zesty under the beaming SoBe sun, what better to quaff along the Atlantic while watching the Miami sky-line fade into the horizon? Fresh caught mahi mahi, a hit of fresh squeezed lime juice, touch of guac all wrapped in up a tortilla; this may just be summer in paradise.
Lagler, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Burgberg, Wachau, 2007 – An HW favorite, the Lagler family is one of the most respected, wine making families dating back to the late-1700s. Although most-reputed for their Rieslings, their grüner veltliners are unbelievable! This particular one is rich and juicy, with a well defined acid structure and deeply pronounced minerality possessing classic spicy, peppery, licorice and meyer lemon notes with an endless finish.
Leth, Grüner Veltliner Reserve Steinagrund, Wagram, 2008 — This GV is like a “She-hulk” in body – ripe, big and muscular but luscious and sensuous in one fatal blow. Despite its opulent personality, it has a good structure and an underlying minerality giving way to a balanced wine with a long finish. Something about a diver scallop carpaccio with ruby red grapefruit segments, pink peppercorn vinaigrette and luscious extra virgin olive oil that sounds like this would be a match made in comic book heaven.
Please note some wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit www.epicuriouschic.com and we can assist in sourcing these wines. Follow me on Twitter @EpicuriousChic.