My tryst with Gruner Veltliner fondly called GruVee began in 2008 while I was working in beverages in London; it was supposed to be the next big thing to happen after Pinot Grigio in the market then. I moved to India shortly after and GruVee had not reached the Indian shores, sometime in 2011 is when we had the Schloss Gobelsburger Gruner Veltliner. I have been happily using the wine for many of my tastings since however anything beyond 2 years old was a strict no-no, until the Austrian wine Summit 2015 happened for us. I was in Austria exploring its wines and also tasted a GruVee from 1983.
Gruner Veltliner is a white grape variety; a factor that one cannot miss about this grape is its bracing acidity. A high yielding variety it can be spicy and peppery or can be laden with stone fruits depending from where it comes from. It is known to come from North-east and east of Austria, generic regions being the Niederosterreich (Lower Austria) and Burgenland. 29.5% of Austria’s vineyard area is planted with Gruvee, 13518 hectares to be precise a big cut given a total of 35 grape varieties, 22 white and 13 red are used to make quality wines in the country. Niederosterreich is the most important regions for the grape and around 44% of the area has GruVee vines. Specific regions within Lower Austria are Traisental, Kremstal, Weinviertel, Wien (Vienna), Wachau, Wagram and Kamptal, the last one is where the Schloss Gobelsburger available in the country comes from. Weinvartel the northern most wine growing area is known for the most peppery and sharp Gruners.
GruVees could either be in its ‘Klassik’ version showing pure fruit and a minimum of 12% alcohol or it could be a ‘Reserve’ showing subtle botrytis or oak notes in addition and contains a minimum of 13 % alcohol. Both these versions come dry with a maximum of 6 grams/litre of sugar. If a mention of botrytis (a fungus which concentrates grape sugars and affects taste) did not ring a bell yet, it should have or perhaps you knew it already! Botrytis and dry white wines are not often spoken of in the same breath as the former is associated with sweet wines; however most of GruVee areas are located near tributaries of the Danube and are thus prone to Botrytis. Vineyard management is done to avoid growth for dry wine making however in reserve wines some of it is allowed to grow for added complexity.
Lastly the epic tasting of 100 wines by over 150 wine professionals from across the globe at the Palais Niederosterreich, Vienna was an eye-opener for me; needless to say I was a part of the tasting. We tasted wines from 2014 all the way back to 1983 and it was quite overwhelming. Based on the tasting, below is a list of wines which stood out for your perusal.
2014 Stift Gottweig, Gottweiger Berg
2012 Josef Schmid GMBH, Kremser Gebling, Reserve
1985 MantlerHof, Gedersdorf (Herbacoeus, Mineral, medium body, high acidity)
2013 Hirtzberger, Federspiel
2012 Pichler Krutzler, Durnsteiner Wnderberg
2010 Tegernseerhof, Smaragd
2014 Bauer Norbert, Diermannsee
2013 Pfaffl, Grossebersdorfer Kirchenberg, Reserve
1983 Malteser Ritterorden, Hundschupfen ( Pale gold, feminine, elegant incredible for its age)
2014 Kirchmayr, Strasser Stangl
2013, Topf, Heiligenstein, Reserve
2010 Topf Johann, Ofenberg, Reserve
2014 Neumayer, Engelberg
2013 Siedler, Reserve
2013 Huber, reserve
2014 Josef Bauer
2013 Leth, Gigama, reserve
2012 Wimmer Czerny , Unfiltered
Austrian exports have gone up 100% to approx 150 Mn Euros in the last decade and Gruvee certainly has a role to play here. I don’t care as much if GruVee is already a ‘big thing’ as long as I get a zingy glass of it with a blob of fresh sheep cheese and a piece of laugenstang.
P.S: For those interesting in sparkling wines or Sekt as they are called, Steininger or Szigeti should be worthy choice.