If you’ve read my bio, you know I very rarely enter the realm of white wine. But since I’ve only had two since the year has started, I intentionally chose a white varietal with the optimistic view that the weather would warm (even slightly) and give me inspiration for some lighter, pool-worthy beverages.
Grüner veltliner (pronounced “grew-ner felt-lee-ner”) is the chosen one this week – and I’m pretty darn pleased about my selection! I hosted a girls’ wine night a couple days, ago with the focus being sauvignon blanc or grüner veltliner, which is said to be similar in flavor to our S.B., along with a few other white varietals. The girls did not disappoint – we had a few legit S.B.s along with a Bordeaux blend featuring the grape, and two different wines. I brought the grüner veltliner for my own selfish blog purposes, but let me tell you….wine night was a success! I was so intrigued by the white wine options, and while I’d love to feature all of them on this post, I’m just going to focus on the grüner veltliner. I promise, you won’t be wasting your time!
So what is this grape? Well if you’re a bit smarter than I am, you probably already realized that grüner means green. This green-skinned grape ripens in mid to late October, and is most typically gown in Austria – where it’s the most widely planted grape, followed by Slovakia, Czech Republic (let’s hear it for the ancestors!!!), and Hungary. So we’re traveling to somewhere in central/eastern Europe through this bottle. Some of the yield is made into legit sparkling wine (and I say legit here for a particular reason I’ll get into later). In some areas along the Danube where it’s grown, it’s nestled alongside riesling vines on steep slopes. Because of this particular terrain or terroir, the wine itself takes on great minerality, which enables it to be aged for long periods of time. But don’t think aging this wine is an absolute must; this wine can be, and often is, drunk young.
Fun fact: The Austrian Wine Marketing Board held some blind tastings recently where the grüner veltliners beat out renowned chardonnays from the Monday and Louis Latour! And it even beat out some of Burgundy’s highest rated Grand cru wines in 2002. How you like that? This grape can hob knob with the best of the white wine world!
It’s also become known by the cute, shortened name of “GrüVe”…get it? Groovy?
This groovy wine can accompany a variety of foods, so you probably can’t go wrong. It’ll even complement dishes with some of those tough-to-pair-with-wine vegetables like artichoke and asparagus. Think Asian fusion. Oh, and take a peek at my overall thoughts about this wine for my personal recommendation.
GrüVe is a drier, light to medium bodied white wine with high acidity and present fruity flavors. It can have dominant flavors of yellow or green apple, pear, peach, and even white pepper. There are three main tiers of quality when it comes to Austrian grüner veltliner:
- Landwein = lower alcohol, bulk-made wines
- Qualitätswein = Austria’s mark of quality for GrüVe, literally translates to ‘quality wine’. *Note: this can also be used in reference to riesling.
- DAC = subregional qualitätswein, which is broken out into Classic (a lighter style) and Reserve (a richer style).
As we find with many varietals, they’re not pigeon-holed or limited to being grown in a single locale. Grüner veltliner is planted across many ponds in Canada, Australia, and even among many west and east coast states right here in the US.
Onto the tasting? But of course! Drumroll please…..
Now I can see what’s on the label, but like many European wines, how everything is combined to make a ‘cohesive’ statement is not always intuitive. I tried to look it up so I knew the correct way to reference it, but honestly, it’s listed under a lot of different ways. So I’m going to stick (mostly) with what’s on the label:
This dry wine carries a 12.5% ABV in a tall, stand-out green bottle:
Appearance: A pale yellow, that leaves slow-moving legs on the glass. It looks crystal clear.
Nose: Crisp, green apple, lemon, slightly herbaceous undertones, but only in a supporting role (too faint to classify).
Taste: Slightly effervescent, there’s a hint of sour lemon (like sour patch kids, but in a good way) on top of a bigger, granny smith apple fruit flavor.
Overall: This wine was so refreshing. It’ll definitely be bought again for the summer months! I would almost put this on the spectrum of sparkling to still – upon opening, this wine has a refreshing fizz that just sits so well. We paired the wines with various cheeses (including a softer goat cheese, sweet cheddar, and Parmigiano), and I also made green chile chicken enchiladas. Even with the fat and cream of the food it was served with, the wine itself seemed to cleanse the palate, similar to what we’d expect with a sparkling. As I mentioned above, this wine could easily become a crowd pleaser, and be paired with a variety of celebrations and snacks/meals.
Here’s hoping the next white wine I feature is as enjoyable as this!
As they say in Austria, Prost!