Home Also Trending Lesser-known grape varieties worth knowing: Grüner Veltliner

Lesser-known grape varieties worth knowing: Grüner Veltliner


If you’ve never experienced the taste of a good Grüner Veltliner (Grüner for short), you ought to give this little-known gem a try.

Mostly grown in eastern Europe (primarily Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria), the vines produce grapes that remain green for most of the fall (in the northern hemisphere), with ripening typically occurring in mid- to late October.

The juice extracted from the Grüner grapes can produce a wine that is not only pure but also brimming with a nice mineral quality, which allows it to age well, so much so that in blind tastings it has at times been favorably compared to some of the world’s top-rated chardonnays, including some from Burgundy and California.

I am a purist at heart. Given the choice, I prefer to drink wines that are true to their origins. However, I can easily be tempted by a well-made wine, regardless of its provenance. In the past couple of decades, a small but growing number of U.S wineries have been experimenting with Grüner Veltliner, including some in California, Oregon and upstate New York.

Other countries have taken notice and some is now being cultivated in western Canada and Australia.

“GrüVe,” as it is sometimes known in Austria where it is the most widely planted grape and where it most likely originated as a natural offspring of Savagnin (also known as Traminer), was originally known as Weißgipfler.

The name Grüner Veltliner appeared for the first time in 1855. By 1930, it became the established and widely accepted name for the wine.

In the incestuous world of ampelography, it has been determined that it is a natural child of Savagnin.

Ampelography is the botanical science dealing with the identification and classification of grapevines.

Grüner Veltliner also is a half-sibling of Rotgipfler, and it could either be a half-sibling or a grandchild of pinot noir; the exact nature still has to be determined due to inconclusive DNA testing.

Botanists have not determined whether pinot noir or Savagnin was the offspring and which was the parent.

But what does it taste like, you ask? Well, like any wine, the taste can vary widely based on geography, climate and the winemaker’s skill and style. In general, a well-made Grüve might give off mixed notes of citrus and slightly fruity characteristics intermingled with hints of celery, spice, white pepper and lentil.

It is often full-bodied and fragrant, with flavors similar to the chardonnays of Burgundy.

Here is one you can try at your leisure: Zull Weinviertel Grüner Veltliner 2019. It’s from Austria (of course), with green pear notes on the nose and an alluring, tropical guava ring to them. It presents a lively palate with a little spritz holding subtle pepperiness.

Want to know more? Hit me up www.facebook.com/Olivier Thewineguy or via email at OlivierTheWineguy@gmail.com.


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