Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gruner Veltliner

This white grape, in my opinion, cannot decide if it wants to be a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling and, just when you think you've figured it out, it hits you with a white pepper finish to really throw you off.  It is a grape with high acidity, which makes it a choice ingredient for sweet wines as well as still wines.  This also makes them capable of aging.  Because it is a little late to ripen, it is best suited for a moderate climate.
Although not very well known in the New World, Gruner Veltliner is quite popular in Austria where it is the most planted varietal.  It is also grown in Germany, Alsace and Central Otago, New Zealand.  In the United States, Oregon is now showing interest in the grape.  
Austria claims four wine regions - Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Vienna, Burgenland and Styria.  While Lower Austria (which, oddly, is in the northern part of the country) is where this grape reigns supreme, it is also produced in Vienna.  Vienna is the only major city in the world that can claim a wine region in its own name.  The vast majority of production occurs in Lower Austria and Burgenland.
Austria’s wine laws are quite similar to those of Germany, however minimum must weights are higher so you will see sweeter wines at the levels of the same name.  They also categorize quality into Tafelwein, Qualitatswein and Pradikatswein, but add another two levels.  Ausbruch is a dessert wine whose classification would fall somewhere between Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese.  Strohwein is a production method wherein bunches are laid out on straw mats over the winter to concentrate the sugars and flavors.
You should definitely choose a representative from Austria for your first choice.  As your second choice, pick one from Oregon or New Zealand.  Do you detect any differences in the type of fruit you are smelling/tasting?  Did you detect white pepper?  Gruner Veltliner is much said to be a perfect accompaniment to wiener schnitzel because of the white pepper notes.
If you decide you are a fan of this wine after this tasting experiment, you have earned the right to start calling it by it’s nickname, “Gru Vee!”
On The Label
Gruner Veltliner
In The Bottle
Green fruit, citrus fruit, spice, tropical fruit, vegetal
At The Table
Poultry, schnitzel, vegetables
Photo Credit:GroovyBaby.jpg

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