Gruner Veltliner: New Darling of Somms

GrunerVeltlinerFrom the boats and ships that travel the Danube River as it winds its way through Austria’s Wachau Valley, steeply terraced vineyards provide a breathtaking backdrop.

But if your mode of transportation is an automobile, you can get an up-close look at the river-level plantings, as many of the narrow roads are lined with Gruner Veltliner grapevines.

Over the past two years, Gruner Veltliner (pronounced grew-ner velt-leen-er) has gained widespread popularity in the Untied States, as it has become the darling of sommeliers from coast to coast.

The reason its food affinity. Other than rich beef-based dishes such as stews or steaks, it’s hard to find any food that doesn’t pair well with Gruner Veltliner.

Sometimes referred to by somms simply as “Grooner” or even “Groovy,” Gruner Veltliner is Austria’s most widely planted grape variety, by far, and the finest renditions come from the vineyards lining the Danube in Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal.

In the Wachau Valley, many of the wineries craft three bottlings of Gruner Veltliner, differentiated by alcohol level. Within those three designations, two distinctive styles have emerged.

One is spicy, weighty and quite complex, with layers of aromas and flavors. The wines made in this style tend to age gracefully for five years or more, and over time can develop a honeyed characteristic.

The other style is lighter and fresher, with less emphasis on spice (although the white pepper-like quality is still noticeable) and more emphasis on fruit qualities reminiscent of citrus. This is the style that sommeliers have embraced, as the wine pairs well with white meats, fowl and fish, as well as mildly spiced ethnic fare.

When Gruner Veltliner is in your wine glass, life truly is groovy.

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One comment on “Gruner Veltliner: New Darling of Somms
  1. toni silver says:

    Always nice for Austrian wine to get ink, but let’s get the full story; there are many, many styles of Gruner Veltliner, that vary so greatly you cannot really break it down to two. It is the top varietal of a country with 20,000+winemakers, and every top Austrian winemaker in Kremstal, Wagram, Kamptal, Wachau, Weinviertl (and the other appellations, excluding only Steiermark) makes at least 5 different ones. In addition, of course it can pair with meat. There are numerous high end single vineyard full bodied Gruner Veltliners that can be paired with steak, such as Forstreiter Gruner Veltliner Tabor DAC Kremstal Reserve (which won Best GV DAC Kremstal reserve last yr from Falstaff), and Frisch Gruner Veltliner Schlossberg, currently being served by the glass at the legendary Keen’s Steakhouse in NYC.

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