Time for Austrian wine : Grüner Veltliner

After my posts about Vienna and Vienna’s wine bars, it’s time to finally talk about Austrian wine! I focussed on the typical Austrian grapes : grüner veltliner, sankt laurent, zweigelt and blaufränkisch. I’m pretty sure Austria produces very taste bud worthy sauvignons, chardonnays and rieslings, but for now I reserved my taste buds for the indigenous grapes. Today I’ll share a couple of grüner veltliners that I liked with you. The white wines made from this grape are described as light, very fresh and often you will read that these wines have an aroma of white pepper. While you will certainly find wines that match this description, I found that grüner veltliner is capable of producing very different styles, from light and fresh to powerful and heady.

Light and floral

The first grüner veltliner is an easy going one that goes easy on your budget as well. It’s the “Sandgrube 2013” of 2016 produced by Winzer Krems, a cooperative and the biggest wine producer of Austria. The wine is very aromatic and an instant pleaser, with loads and loads of floral aromas that jump out the glass. It also has a nice underlying minerality, peach, and a somewhat yeasty nose. The wine has a light sparkle, which is also very typical of grüner veltliner, and that adds to the freshness of this wine. The fizz and the acidity make that this wine is light on its feet despite the ripe aromas of white flowers and peaches. This is pretty dangerous stuff to drink, as it goes down all too easily. Perfect wine for a summer pick-nick. No great complexity or refinement, but a cheerful, easy-going wine. Bought at 11,50€.

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Fresh and elegant

The Zöbinger Terrassen 2016, Kamptal Reserve is quite something else than the previous one. While it also has a light sparkle, the nose is much more refined, with the minerality dominating. The whole profile of the wine can best be described as fine : the aromas, the acidity, the fruit. It’s all very elegant and well-balanced. This clearly stands one step above the easy-going grüner of Winzer Krems. You obviously pay a bit more, but the difference in quality justifies the difference in price. Grab this one if you can find it! Bought at 15,95€.

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Powerful

The most powerful grüner I had was at the Eulennest, a wine bar in Vienna. It’s the Brunntal Reserve 2016 of Kolkmann, Fels am Wagram. The color alone already tells you that this is going to be something completely different. Instead of greenish yellow, the color here is much darker, rather golden yellow. The nose is fuller, riper, with peach, apricot, quince, and something that reminds me of curry. I also have a touch of yeast here like I had in the Sandgrube 13. The wine is very round and full-bodied. This not a grüner that is defined by its freshness anymore, but rather by its power. I like it, but this is definitely not a summer pick-nick kind of wine anymore. Rather something to accompany a salmon fillet, for example. Unfortunately no picture of this wine. I see it’s available in Belgium for 21,30€.

I was very happy with my little tour of grüner veltliner. There’s so much more to discover of course. Some of these grüners can age very well, actually, and then develop honey and quince aromas. I haven’t had an opportunity now to try one that has aged, but will look out for more grüners. They are all-rounders really. They are perfect on a sunny day as a refreshing apéritif, but will also accompany a summer salad, or even a light fish dish. In that way they have a profile that is a bit similar to a classic sauvignon blanc : from very light and easy to fresh and refined and even quite powerful wines. And yet, they have their own touch, that typical fizz, but also the floral and somewhat yeasty aroma’s. Plenty to discover in other words, and in general at reasonable prices. So grab a grüner veltliner if you find one and let me know how you liked it!

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