Austria’s Gruner Veltliner

Throughout history, Austria has contributed countless things to culture and knowledge that have endured to this day. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an acclaimed Austrian composer. Félix Baumgartner was the first person to break the sound barrier. There is also Sigmund Freud, who was a psychologist and researcher. Considered the father of psychoanalysis, Franz Kafka was a famous novel writer and many other characters. It is indisputable that Austria has also contributed to the world of enology with the Gruner Veltliner.

This strain is the most widely planted grape variety in Austria. It’s well known for being considered among the best eight white wines globally. Far surpassing the famous Burgundian and Australian Chardonnays.

This post will explain a little about what the Gruner Veltliner grape strain is about; we will talk a little about its origin, what characteristic its grapes and produced wines offer, and we will explain the best ideal accompaniments for this wine and its price.

What is the Gruner Veltliner?

The Gruner Veltliner grape, also known as “the Austrian grape”, is a white grape. It’s characterized by being a terroir grape since it efficiently transmits the characteristics of the place where it is grown.

It’s a grape that adapts very well in Austria due to its cold and fresh climates, and its characteristics vary according to its performance. If the strain production is high, the wine is light and fresh. However, if the production is low yield, the wines are so exquisite that they compete with the world’s best wines.

This grape variety is late-ripening, with characteristics of citrus notes, lime, grapefruit, pear, and lemon.

Its growth occurs, especially in deep loess soils. It is necessary to prevent the plant from drying out during its cultivation. The plant this grape comes from is sensitive during flowering and is susceptible to the Peronospora parasite, the Roter Brenner fungus, and chlorosis (lack of chlorophyll, which causes loss of color in the plants).

Grapes and leaves of the grape variety Grüner Veltliner – Original photo By Rosenzweig – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

Origin and History of the Gruner Veltliner

The term “Veltliner” means “from Valtellina” in German, an Italian alpine area, specifically the Teglio Valley, which belonged to Austria during the years of geographical ups and downs in the 19th century. The characteristic of this area is being one of the highest towns where this vine cultivation occurs.

“Gruner”, on the other hand, means “green”. Therefore its name means “the green Valtellina”. However, wine historians have not found a relationship between this vine and the Italian region.

Its origin is somewhat uncertain, although data points to the Niederosterreich area (Lower Austria).

Although its name is very similar to other vine varieties such as Roter Veltliner or Fruhofer Veltliner, Gruner Veltliner is not related to these vines. This variety is most closely related to the Traminer variety and an Austrian grape found in St. Georgen in Austria’s Burgenland region.

This vine became the most widely planted grape variety in Austria when Lenz Mozer introduced it for commercial exploitation in the 1920s. Since then, the Hockkultur (High culture) system has been used for its winemaking to obtain better results. It expanded throughout the country to become the most widely planted Austrian variety from the 1950s.

This vine was for many years a little-known autochthonous wine from Austria. But it wasn’t until 2002 that wine experts Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin were attending the tasting. That’s where a Gruner Veltliner wine beat an acclaimed Burgundy Grand Cru wine by far. From then on, this wine became well known in the world.

Characteristics of Gruner Veltliner Grape Wines

This strain offers wines of different quality levels, from light and young wines with acid tones to very mature wines.

In general, Gruner Veltliner wines are characteristic white wines due to their citrus aroma of lemons, limes, grapefruit. And also spicy notes such as white pepper or stone fruit notes. You can distinguish green touches such as peas when your grapes have not reached full maturity at the time of harvest. Also, they can become full-bodied, being considered “honeyed and heavy” by some wine critics.

The young wines of this strain have good acidity, a little lower than Riesling’s. They are not very aromatic and develop more tertiary aroma with age, although they tend to show white pepper, lentils, and celery notes.

When the wines are produced with late-ripening grapes, they can reach an alcoholic strength of up to 15%. It’s a dry wine that is also for making sweet wines. Like Chardonnay and Riesling, Gruner Veltliner wines are best for late drinking.

Where Does Gruner Veltliner Grape Grow?

In Austria, this grape cultivation occupies 33% of the wine plantations in this country. The central growing regions for this vine are Lower Austria’s areas by the Danube River, west of Vienna, and Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal.

In the regions near Poysdorf, the cultivation of this vine is to produce sparkling wines. While in Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal, their wine is very pure and mineralized, with the capacity for long aging.

Outside of Austria, Gruner Veltliner cultivation is in the Czech Republic, where it represents 11% of the total cultivation of wine grapes in this country, being the second most planted grape in this country.

Other countries where this vine can be found in Slovakia, Hungary, the United States, and Australia, although the wine produced in the latter two does not resemble those of Austrian wines. Hence comes the consideration of being a terroir grape.

Wine Pairing

This variety of wine is excellent to pair with spicy dishes, especially ginger or black pepper, which harmonize well with wines of this type.

Prices

A significant advantage of the Gruner Veltliner strain is its quality and affordable prices. The price of a 750 ml bottle is approximately $ 13, and its cheaper ranges are considered a bargain because of its quality, both in Austria and the rest of the world.