Gruner Veltliner is a variety of white wine grape variety grown primarily in Austria, Slovakia and in the Czech Republic. It has a reputation of being a particularly food-friendly wine. It is made into wines of many different styles - much is intended for drinking young in the Heuriger (bars serving new wine) of Vienna, a little is made into sparkling wine, but some is capable of long aging. The steep, Rhine-like vineyards of the Danube west of Vienna produce very pure, minerally GrÃ¼ner Veltliners intended for laying down. Down in the plains, citrus and peach flavours are more apparent, with spicy notes of pepper and sometimes tobacco.
|Wine description||Bright acidity, full of exotic tropical fruits, in deeper clay soils a more spicy taste|
|Food pairing||seafood, pairs excellent with Asian food, bitter greens and salads|
|Notable regions||Lower Austria, Burgenland, Moravia, Czech Republic|
|Notable wines||Smaragds from Wachau|
It is sometimes said that Gruner Veltliner dates back to Roman times and that its name is derived from Veltlin (Valtellina) in northern Italy. However, the current name appeared in a document for the first time in 1855 - before that time it was known as Weigipfler or Gruner Muskateller. Only by the 1930s was Gruner Veltliner established as the standard name of the grape. Until the Second World War it was regarded as just another Austrian grape, it took Lenz Moser's Hochkultur system of vine training to really get the best out of it, and it expanded quickly in plantation from the 1950s to later become Austria's most planted variety. Since the antifreeze scandal of 1985, Gruner Veltliner has been at the forefront of the switch in Austrian winemaking towards better quality dry wines.
Some ampelographers (such as Hermann Goethe in his famous 1887 handbook of ampelography) have long assumed that Gruner Veltliner is not related to the other varieties with "Veltliner" in their name (such as Roter Veltliner), or that it is only distantly related. Neither has it been assumed to be related to the Muscat family, despite the old name "Gruner Muskateller" (Muskateller is the German designation for Muscat).
A first DNA analysis in the late 1990s secured Traminer as one parent of GrÃ¼ner Veltliner, but was not able to identify the other parent among the candidates studied. The other parent was later found to be an originally unnamed variety of which only a single, abandoned, very old and weakened vine was found in St. Georgen outside Eisenstadt in Austria. It is therefore referred to as St. Georgener-Rebe, "St. Georgen-vine". The vine was found in 2000 in an overgrown part of a pasture in a location where there had not been any vineyard since the late 19th century, and is assumed to have been the last vine in this location for over a century. Local experts were not able to determine the variety of the vine. Only when it was threatened to be ripped out in 2005 additional samples were taken and later analysed at Klosterneuburg. Genetic analysis in the following years by Ferdinand Regner was able to determine that St. Georgener-Rebe is a parent variety to Gruner Veltliner. The parents of this variety have not been determined. Plans exist to bring the variety into experimental cultivation in order to assess its viticultural properties.
In 2008, Gruner Veltliner plantations in Austria stood at 17,151 hectares (42,380 acres), and it accounts for 32.6% of all vineyards in the country, almost all of it being grown in the northeast of the country. Along the Danube to the west of Vienna, in Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, it grows with Riesling in terraces reminiscent of the Rhine, on slopes so steep they can barely retain any soil. The result is a very pure, minerally wine capable of long ageing, that stands comparison with some of the great wines of the world. In recent blind tastings organised by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Gruner Veltliners have beaten world-class Chardonnays from the likes of Mondavi and Maison Louis Latour.
In the deeper clay soils in the Weinviertel to the northeast of Vienna Gruner Veltliner develops more of a spicy, peppery character, which can be aged although a lot of production is intended to be drunk young in the heurigen bars of Vienna. Some is made into sparkling wine in the far northeast around Poysdorf.
A little is grown south of Vienna, in the warmer climates of the vineyards towards the Hungarian plains, although the growers there are more interested in red and dessert wines.
Two of the first three DACs (geographical appellations) in Austria apply to Gruner Veltliner, the Weinviertel DAC and the Traisental DAC.
Gruner Veltliner is the most popular wine group in country standing at 2,756 hectares (6,810 acres)
The Czech Republic, particularly Southern Moravia close to the Austrian border, produces some Gruner Veltliners of notable quality. Gruner Veltliner wines form approximately 11% of Czech wine production. This makes Gruner Veltliner the second most widely grown white grape variety in the Czech Republic.
A little is grown in Austria's former imperial partner.
In recent years a few US wineries have started to grow and bottle Gruner Veltliner, including wineries and vineyards in Oregon, Maryland, the Finger Lakes region of New York State, Napa Valley, Clarksburg AVA, Santa Barbara County and Santa Ynez Valley AVA.
The variety is now being experimented with by a number of winemakers in New Zealand including Spade Oak in the Gisborne region.
The leaves are five-lobed and the bunches are long but compact, with deep green grapes that ripen in mid-late October.
RED GRAPE VARIETIES