Grüner Veltliner

By Lisa Rowlands

Although it sees considerable success in other countries, Grüner Veltliner is forever synonymous with its native Austria. Here, the grape accounts for around one third of total production and delivers wines in two distinct styles: crisp, mineral rich and lively with intense fruit flavours, or complex, multi-layered and spicy. As well as Austria and the afore mentioned Central European countries, small representations of this variety can also be found in parts of Italy, and in the new world nations of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

A relatively late ripening variety, Grüner Veltliner is a versatile vine capable of producing fine fruit from a variety of soil types and climates. It has the potential for high yields and is susceptible to viticultural hazards such as rot and mildew, thus producers must employ careful vineyard management and restrictions to ensure the vine achieves its potential. West of Vienna, in areas such as Wachau, the Grüner Veltliner vines thrive on especially steep slopes with minimal soil, producing steely wines intended for laying down in the cellar.

Today, Austria’s emblematic grape is increasingly popular with producers, consumers and critics outside of its native home. Whilst twenty-five years ago, the variety had barely been heard of internationally, it is now a staple of top restaurant wine lists across the globe, and its success in blind tastings against a number of Burgundy Grand Cru wines, has served only to enhance its reputation.