A distinctive white from
is gaining aficionados stateside Austria
Having been lucky enough to tour the lush wine regions of the
a few years ago, I was treated to some of Wachau Valley ’s best wines paired with perhaps the finest Austrian cuisine. But as much as I loved the crisp, citrusy (and decidedly dry) Rieslings, both white and red, my mind and palate still savor the scarcely known Austrian white varietal (at least in America) known as Grüner Veltliner. Bavaria
Fortunately, from all indications in the wine trade, things are changing and this truly delicious and savory wine is beginning to win fans on this side of the
Atlantic. For the uninitiated, Grüner Veltliner (pronounced something like GROON-er FELT-lih-nur) is one of the most widely planted grapes currently grown in and is often served young and fresh by the barrelful in restaurants and beer gardens alike. It is a late ripening varietal that is typically pale green in color and abounds in fruity notes of grapefruit, limes, pears, and tart apple with hints of mild white pepper. Austria
Because the best Gruner Veltliner wines are resolutely acidic, with a solid, flinty framework, they can age gracefully and actually improve and become more complex, much like that of a quality Viognier. Further, with all their natural acidity, subtle fruit and grassy finish, virtually any Gruner Veltliner is an excellent match with a wide variety of food, from roasted veal shank to grilled swordfish.
The grape's natural acidity accompanied by its restrained and understated fruit characters makes its wines ideal partners for food. If ever there was the perfect alternative to woodsy Chardonnays, this is it; the herbal aromas and spicy palatability of a well-made Gruner Veltliner is decidedly un-Chardonnay-like in its lack of wood expression.
While the origins of the varietal are unclear, the name "Veltliner" is taken from the
In many ways Gruner Veltliner is to
Gruner Veltliner is one of the most widely planted grapes currently grown in
Relatively inexpensive, most Gruner Veltliner wines range from about $15 up to about $60 and can often be found misplaced among Rieslings and non-descript “Alsatian” wines in most local wine shops. New York-based importer and distributor Michael Skurnik (www.skurnikwines.com) brings in a representative assortment of Gruner Veltliners, including the full-bodied, creamy and concentrated Schloss Gobelsburg Lamm, rich and peppery Brundlmayer Lamm, exotically spiced Ludwig Heidler and pear-accented, rich and round Familie Nigl, to name just a few. All are flinty in the finish, with pungent aromas and offer up a cornucopia of exotic fruit, herb and spice flavors, underscored by a lively acidity.Of course, nothing compares to sampling Gruner Veltliner in