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The Grüner Veltliner Grape

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About Grüner Veltliner

(Synonyms: Bielospicak, Cima Biancam, Dreimänner, Feherhegyü, Feldlinger, Grauer Veltliner, Green Veltliner, Grün Muskateller, Grüne Manhardsrebe, Grüner, Grüner Muskateler, Grüner Muskateller, Grüner Velteliner, Grüner Weissgipfler, Grüner Weltliner, Grünmuskateller, Gruner Veltliner, Manhardsrebe, Manhardtraube, Manhartsrebe, Mauhardsrebe, Mouhardrebe, Mouhardsrebe, Muskatel, Muskatel Zeleny, Nemes Veltelini, Plinia Austriaca, Ranfol bianco, Ranfol Bijeli, Ranfol Weisser, Rdeci Veltinec, Reifler Weiss, Ryvola Bila, Tarant Bily, Valtelin blanc, Valtelina vert, Valteliner, Valteliner blanc, Valteliner vert, Velteliner Grüner, Velteliner vert, Velteliner Weisser, Veltelini Zöld, Veltlin Zeleny, Veltlinac Zeleni, Veltlinec, Veltliner, Veltliner blanc, Veltliner grau, Veltliner Grun, Veltliner Gruner, Veltliner Grün, Veltliner verde, Veltlini, Veltlinske Zelené, Veltlínské Zelené, Veltlinski Zelenii, Veltlinsky Vert, Veltlinsky Zeleny, Vetlinac, Vetlinac Zeleni, Weisser Raifler, Weisser Reifler, Weisser Valteliner, Weisser Velteliner, Weisser Veltliner, Weissgipfler, Weissgipfler Grüner, Yesil Veltliner, Zeleni Vetlinac, Zeleny Muskatel, Zleni Veltinac, Zöld Muskotally, Zöld Muskotalynak, Zöld Veltelini, Zöld Velteliny, Zöldveltelini, Zold Veltelini)

Background

Grüner Veltliner grapes Map showing Austria & the Czech Republic

Grüner Veltliner is a white-wine grape probably originating in Austria, which remains its primary home, though it is also much grown today in both halves of the former Czechoslovakia: Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

(Note on pronunciation: it is GRU-ner felt-LEEN-er; a lot of people pronounce that second word with the wrong syllable emphasised.)

Though an ancient grape, it has only achieved note in modern times, having previously been thought of as a minor and undistinguished grape. Some Grüner Veltliner is still grown and vinified as jug wine. Even better-quality GV tends to be somewhat shy in its youth, and well-made GV improves with bottle age. Descriptions of GV wines are therefore more or less all over the map.

The few common descriptive threads are light citrus-y fruit and a white-pepper overtone; beyond those, one variously hears of celery, lentils, and spice. Better samples, when aged, take on body and weight, and are often compared with white Burgundies (mostly meaning Chardonnay). Like Chardonnay, GV can be made unoaked (as with Chablis), in which case it tends also to show minerality, or quite oaky, in which case it tends to the "fat" quality Chardonnays so treated tend to exhibit. In a sense, then, Grüner Veltliner can be considered more than one wine type (again, as with Chardonnay).

There seems to be quite a hierarchy of GV wines, with a lot of emphasis on the exact place of origin. (It has been remarked that "Life is too short to read a German wine label," and Austrian wine labels are said to be worse; You Have Been Warned.) There is a good general discussion of GV types on the Wine Monger site, which we recommend (as well as their article, linked above, on Austrian wine classification); we summarize its key points below:

  • The Wachau region: Earlier harvests of Wachau Grüner Veltliner go into bottlings which are labeled Steinfeder or Federspiel and are light- to medium-bodied and meant for extremely casual drinking (they are traditionally used for wine spritzers), while the later harvest goes into the fuller-bodied, more complex Smaragd wines.

  • The Kremstal region: The wines here are perhaps more easily approachable than those of their western neighbor, with a softer fruit profile.

  • The Kamptal region: The white wines from here have a particularly spicy aroma. You’ll also notice that the very shape of the bottle is different from those which hail from the Wachau: again, this is done by the winemakers to further establish their regional differences.

  • The Donauland region (since 2007 called Wagram): Its strength is its unique slopes of loess "steps" or "terraces" that extend to the Danube plain in the south and offer a good terroir for GV.

Factoid: the now-common name Grüner Veltliner was only established as the norm in the 1930s. Indeed, its explosive popularity (already seen by some as now fading) dates only to a famous tasting session in 2002, wherein some specimens outranked some top white Burgundies. Whether the grape is has enduringly good qualities or is (or was) a fad remains to be seen.


Some Descriptions of Grüner Veltliner Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "According to wine expert Oz Clarke, Grüner Veltliner is usually not very aromatic in its youth, developing more tertiary aromas with age. Instead the grape often shows white pepper, lentil and celery note with some examples showing citrus notes and more full bodied examples having what Clarke describes as a "honeyed weight" to them. According to wine expert Tom Stevenson, Grüner Veltliner is often lightly fruity with noticeable spice and characteristic white pepper note. Well-made examples from favorable vintages can have a similarity to Chardonnay produced in Burgundy. And, like Chardonnay, the variety can be made in an overly oaky and "fat" style. Unoaked examples can exhibit a minerality similar to Riesling. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson notes that Grüner Veltliner is usually produced dry with spicy, peppery notes. It is often full-bodied and with age can take on aromas and flavors similar to white Burgundies."

  • Wine Monger

    "So how does a glass of Grüner Veltliner taste? It tends to be a crisp, light-to-medium bodied dry wine with an edge of spice. It can have mineral, herbal, floral, and even fresh pea or lentil notes, and it’s known for having a slight white pepper taste on the finish. The grapes can also be harvested late and used to make dessert wine or even Icewine."

  • Wine Folly

    "The primary fruit flavors in Grüner Veltliner are lime, lemon and grapefruit. There is also a green and herbaceous flavor that is often described as white pepper. However, what makes Grüner Veltliner wine so unique is its signature vein of acidity that explodes in your mouth like pop rocks. More affordable Grüner Veltliner (around the $10-20 mark) loses this acid burst quickly after every sip, but high quality Grüner wine will have a delicate tingly aftertaste."

  • Lettie Teague, Food & Wine

    "Although Grüner’s signature is a spicy, peppery nose, the wines can be light and simple (a bright and refreshing aperitif) or rich and profound, depending on where and how they’re grown. In fact, a well-aged Grüner Veltliner can bear a close resemblance to white Burgundy in richness and texture; a top Grüner Veltliner can easily mature for a decade or more. Sometimes much more."

  • wineaccess

    "The terraced vineyards are found farther west, in the regions of Kremstal, Kamptau, and Wachau. Here, what soil does remain is heavily granite in composition, imbuing the wines with hefty stony character. Wines from Wachau are especially prized for their depth and power. In the Kremstal and Kamptau, soils retain their minerality but are still lighter than those in Wachau. Consequently, wines are somewhat more elegant: still steely but not as intense. Thanks to their acidity, wines from all three regions will age well, shedding some of their initial vegetal characteristics while gaining increased spiciness and complexity."

  • Austrian Wine

    "Grüner Veltliner delivers all quality levels - from light, acidity-toned wines to the highly ripe Prädikat wines. The site and the yield are crucial to the quality. Spicy, peppery versions are preferred; so are versions yielding stone fruit notes. Less desired are wines with Sämlingston - an intense aroma similar to that of the Scheurebe (Sämling 88) variety."

  • Wine Searcher

    "There are two key styles of Gruner Veltliner wines: the first lighter, fresher and citrus-focused, the second spicier, weightier and more complex. The first category capitalizes on Gruner's strong citrus characteristics: lemon peel and grapefruit, usually complemented by some vegetal notes and the variety's trademark hint of peppery spice. These lighter wines are sometimes bottled with a gentle spritz to emphasize their light, fresh style. The second style produces weightier wines which showcase the variety's distinctive white-pepper character. The wines are dry but richly textured, complex and spicy, so much so in fact that many are unapproachable until several years after vintage. With time they soften and display more honeyed, almost marmalade-like characteristics which match their attractive, deep golden hue. These wines are typically made from older, lower-yielding vines, and are correspondingly higher-priced."

  • Stacy Slinkard, about.com

    "This grape enjoys higher acidity levels and is known to put forth an inviting range of aromas from fresh, green apple to juicy tropical fruit and from white pepper to mineral-laden nuances on the nose. Grüner-Veltliner is typically a medium-bodied wine that can cover the spectrum of dry to off-dry in style. Grüner-Veltliner can also cover the gamut from being made in an easy going, quaffing style of wine or turned up to a wine of serious complexity with an encompassing elegance and built for long term aging."

  • Professional Friends of Wine

    "Even the simple wines, from overcropped vines and underripe fruit, can have very pleasant citrus and grapefruit aromas, with a hint of the variety's most distinguishing characteristic: the spicy fragrance of freshly ground white pepper. Today's better wines, however, from top sites and lower yields, can be astonishingly complex, full of exotic tropical fruits, white pepper and lentils. They can also show aromas of green beans or asparagus, an engaging "vegetable" smell that is seldom "vegetal", especially when grown in mineral soil. There is a vast amount of ordinary Grüner Veltliner grown in the Weinviertel, a district within Niederösterreich and Austria's single largest winegrowing area. Although there is some potential here, the wines are mostly of the simple sort and primarily consumed locally at the many wine pubs. Currently the best wines from this variety are being made in the three smaller, adjoining districts along the Danube: the Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal."

  • The Wine Anorak

    "Grüner has a variety of expressions. Cropped at high yields it can make a pleasant but light quaffing white, but if growers take a little more care it is capable of making complex, full flavoured, spicy whites often with a distinctive white flower and cracked pepper edge to them."


Some Grüner Veltliners to Try

(About this list.)

There is a huge assortment of the once-faddy Grüner Veltliner to be found, but it remains so that most of the better ones are outside our self-imposed $20 price range, and of those that aren't, a lot are frivolous "easy drinking" bottlings. Nevertheless, with some diligence one can find praised specimens at plausible prices; here are some.

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Fred Loimer "Lois" Grüner Veltliner, $10 - $19.
    (Kamptal. Do not confuse this entry-level GV with Loimer's other GVs, one of which is listed farther below here—check the images.)
         ($13.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:
    Lois bottle & label.
    This is what you might hope for in an inexpensive gruner, but rarely find: A wine as crisp as lettuce and simultaneously broad and rich, with a wild mix of spice, fruit and vegetal notes.

    The Lois, also bottled by Fred Loimer, smelled like freshly cut grass, and was also crisp but lighter with a slight spritz. It was fresh and simple, with enough citrus fruit to be enjoyed without food. All of these wines tasted better well chilled, although each was unique enough to work in different contexts.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar: 2008 vintage, 87 points; 2008 vintage, 88 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator: 2013 vintage, 88 points; 2010 vintage, 85 points.

    Bright and crisp, with savory hints to the laserlike flavors of Fuji apple, Meyer lemon and melon. Long and richly spiced midpalate, presenting hints of ginger and kiwifruit on the finish.

    I say “How many green apples can you cram in a bottle?” and just to prove the point you print the label with the insides being apple green as well to give the whole thing a green tint. . . Look, this isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t got out of my way for it either. There is a touch of aged citrus, almost some stone fruit but predominantly green apples.

    This is so simple yet with a lightness to the green apple and lime zest fruit that is almost irresistible. It’s got a bit of body to it so while it’s super refreshing it can work well at the dinner table, or lunch table for that matter. Try it with simple grilled shrimp or fried white fish. 86 points.

    This selection opens with enticingly fresh aromas of spicy spring greens, herb, white pepper and citrus. The first flavor impression is of crisp fruit that explodes on the palate (gooseberry, lemon, lime, a touch of pineapple), backed by soft herb (basil, chive, tarragon), with a lean but lively finish. Letting the wine linger in the mouth reveals a smooth creaminess that complements all that bright fruit.

    It was round and spicy and easy drinking. It was the first wine that made me think, Wow, I really like this! I think it was a $10 bottle or something, but in my mind, it was epic.

    Pale pale gold color; at first this wine seems a tissue of delicacies, almost fragile but it gains character and depth in the glass; yes, clean, fresh and crisp but spicy, earthy, savory and saline; green apple, spiced pear, roasted lemon; grapefruit and candied rind; limestone and damp gravel, lovely drapery of texture shot with exhilarating acidity; hints of dust, powdered orange peel and cloves in the finish. Excellent. About $16, representing Great Value.

    Fred Loimer crafts pinpoint accurate, delicate whites in his corner of Austria and LOIS is a breathtakingly delicate, scintillatingly perfumed grüner. Fairy-like, timid, citrus and wild flower notes with a touch of white pepper and spring blossom leads to a long, bone dry palate and a nervy, tangy finish.

    This just may be the best price for quality grüner in the market. It’s made by Fred Loimer, who makes incredibly intense single-vineyard grüners, so he knows his way around this Austrian grape. .  It’s just the kind of wine you want at the end of a hot summer day: refreshing and invigorating. Aromas of white peaches and apples with a whisper of flowers are followed by spicy tropical fruits in the mouth. It finishes with a zesty acidity to keep the mouth watering for more.


  • Schloss Gobelsburg "Gobelsburger" Grüner Veltliner, $11 - $19
    (Kamptal)

    Some quotations and facts:

    A blend of fruit off younger vines in Lamm, Grub and Renner, this is not Moosbrugger’s most complex wine by far, but it’s thrilling in its vivacity. It smells like textbook grüner, earthy and lentil-like; it tastes of citrus, pears and Mirabelle plums, with a bright, thirst-quenching immediacy. Round yet sleek, vibrant and floral, it lasts with energy. A wine to buy by the case.

    The 2006 Grüner Veltliner Gobelsburger is a blend from the single vineyard sites as well as a splash of fruit from outside of the property. This is the "entry level" wine of Castle Gobelsburg, though I think there are few better examples of dry and crisp GrüVe anywhere. A slight floral note on the nose is augmented by a big Granny Smith apple tartness in the mid-palate, which is then followed by a wave of cream and then finally a long, minerally finish. Medium-bodied, it is a wine of immense enjoyment and I can think of nothing better for a warm spring evening.

    Michi Moosbrugger's focus on precision at this historic estate has turned the basic Gobelsburger bottle into something very serious. It's impressive how much wine is here for the price, especially for a lean vintage. Ripe and cassia-tinged, with a richness to its apple fruit; its green side expresses more as dried poblano chile. Gruner that can sing across several octaves.

    Loess terraces – ‘Lössterrassen’ – are chalky terraces found across many sites in the Kamptal region. . . The wine is not about complexity or unravelling mysteries. It’s comprised of honesty and purity – freshly cut pear, radish, mineral and earthy root vegetables. Each element is reasonably easy to spot, and simultaneously, the wine is easy (and pleasant) to drink. There’s a tense but natural acidity that flows amongst peppery vegetal notes, bath salt minerality, and fresh pear juice. Whilst it’s unlikely to be the best example of Grüner Veltliner out there, it’s so good that it almost makes you want to not bother buying any others. Straight to the top of my (growing) GV list. Anyone who appreciates pristine, mineral-driven whites will love this. My rating is admittedly biased due to my love for the grape, but let’s just say it’s a 96 on [my Personal] Scale…

    I thought the wine was well-balanced, laced with bright clear notes and the tartness of Granny Smith apples. We even detected some underlying butterscotch, giving this wine a fullness we hadn't expected. As for that oiliness I don't like? Maybe my palate has improved with age. I detected it, but only on the finish, and it was appropriate, without being overdone. We drank this on a hot summer evening, but it would have been equally as pleasant on a Sunday morning with brunch. It's that kind of wine. [Distributor] Michael Skurnik comments that winemaker Moosbrugger's "special genius seems to lie in the making of very pretty fine-grained wines at the “low” end of his range—no small gift." I would agree.

    The Gobelsburger version [of GV], while certainly zippy, has a bit more oomph than we’re used to seeing in these wines. But we like that about it. And we like any excuse to drink a good Grüner Veltliner, so we’re happy to introduce Gobelsburger into the fold. Nose: Sweet scents of flowers dominate, as well as some stone fruit and wet rock. Mouth: Here’s where the wine takes off and takes shape. It’s got the requisite acid, but then a sort of nice sweet-savory balance. It’s a meaty Austrian wine.

    Widely available, this wine sings classic Grüner to me. Mineral driven nose with peppery notes. Deliciously crisp and juicy with lots of stone fruit and citrus flavor. Peppery spice delightful on the minerally finish.

    The Gobelsburg is an introductory grüner that displays the minerality and clarity of Kamptal, a small, prestigious region a bit removed from the Danube River. 2/3 *

    Light yellow color; tart grapefruit, mineral nose; tart grapefruit, mineral palate; medium-plus finish. 88 points.

    Fresh on nose with caramelised orange peel, pine needles and spice. Frisky on the palate with each element of spice, zest and herbs tumbling over the tongue in an extremely pleasing way. Great mouth-feel with appealing balance between zesty freshness and unctuous generosity.

    [The winemaker] composed [this wine] from the best young wines of this type of grape, uniting grapes from various vineyards in order to emphasize the typical character of a light-footed Kamptal Veltliner, easy on the palate.


  • Fred Loimer Grüner Veltliner, $12 - $25.
    (Kamptal. Do not confuse this with their basic "Lois" bottling, or with their other more upscale renditions—check the images.)
         ($19.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:
    Lois bottle & label.
    The Loimer, easy to spot with its distinctive green label, had a complex nose with youthful hints of nutmeg, spice and black pepper and overtones of lanolin—definitely a food wine. Crisp acidity lifts a full, savory palate with ginger and scallion notes.

    Hailing from a combination of different parcels on his biodynamic Kamptal estate, across a wide variety of soil types (loess, primary rock, gravel, sand, and clay), Fred Loimer creates an enticingly complex wine for the money. There is a wonderful enlivening bright clean-fruit freshness on the nose, coupled with support from super-ripe stone fruits, spice, a broad granular aromatic smear of minerality, and just a tiny seductive hint of the exotic. The palate is more dense than expected, rather weighty actually, with some surprising extract. The finish is really quite exquisite, and ties up this parcel of classic Kamptal perfectly.

    This almost clear wine has a little yellow hue to it. It opens with a fresh light lime bouquet. On the palate, this wine has a round mouthfeel, is a touch acidic, and has very pleasant green apple flavors with a hint of minerality and sweetness. The finish was dry and it stayed with you for a while. . . If you have not tried Grüner Veltliner, I would suggest this is a nice introduction to the grape.

    Pale, straw yellow. Nose is a bit tight at first then apple and powdered sugar aromas come through. Flavors of apple, pear, and lemon peel. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Quality: 3.5 stars (out of five); QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

    Textured and rounded, this attractively packaged gruvee has sweet pear and apple flavours, plus a hint of fresh greenery that matches the label very well. It’s a lovely wine from one of Austria’s best winemakers, Fred Loimer.

    Fred Loimer's popular and reliable effort is juicy and citrus-fruited in '09, with subtle flinty aromas. Straightforward in its fruit, with a bit of bite to the finish.

    Bright white gold in color. "Riesling with a lime twist and dash of pepper" - Golden Delish apple, white pear, Honeydew; along with hints of citrus and white pepper. Medium bodied with straightforward fruit flavor. Well-balanced, not over-bearing, and a stony/mineral finish. ***½ (3.5 stars). A fine spring/summer food wine that even holds its own against Arrabiatta sauce!

    Nice golden straw color. Honeydew melon and freshly ground pepper on the nose. The palate consisted of white pepper on the front end and was followed by expansive flavors of peaches and melons and finished cleanly with some lemon-lime flavors. This seemed to be a tad sweeter than other Grüners I’ve had in the past but the acidity brought everything into balance.


  • Hirsch "Nummer 1" Grüner Veltliner, $13 - $24.
    (Kamptal)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Johannes Hirsch's basic grüner is lean and nervy in 2012, with an almost riesling-like angularity, and oiliness to its minerality; The veltliner comes out in flavor: pink peppercorn and wild, earthy fruit, somewhere between blood orange and fresh mushroom. 91 points.

    The Grade: Amazing. The Mojo: The second straight Austrian white I have tasted this week is the Hirsch Gruner Veltliner "Veltliner #1" 2007, this entry level "GruVe" is playfully aromatic, with vibrant Meyer lemon, red tea, white flower, and spice notes, leading you into flavors of ginger, lemongrass, flint, fresh herbs and fresh cut flowers. It's ripe and lush on the palate, with an incredibly long finish that is so surprisingly light throughout - you will be won over by this grape and this particular producer's presentation of it. This wine is well-balanced, possessing good integration of fruit and acid, with just a touch of residual sugar to give you added intricacy.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 87 points.

    Hirsch's 2007 Gruner Veltliner #1 incorporates some juice from a nearby corner of the Weinviertel, because of a kindred biodynamic soul from whom Hirsch has begun sourcing. More volume of this wine would be good news, as long as it maintains the quality of the previous five editions, and of this one. Classic lentil, lemon and lime are accompanied by a suggestion of tart red currant, making for a sappy and refreshing white (as I have written before) perfect for every day and for the refrigerator.

    This wine's clear golden color is transparent and very pale, typical of GV, and its white-fruit and green-pea aromas are similarly characteristic of the grape. Crisp and citric, dry and tart, it's a bit on the simple side, but mouth-watering and food-friendly, with an attractive touch of "rainwater" minerality developing as the wine warms in the glass.

    One excellent and affordable example is Hirsch “Veltliner #1″, which exemplifies the typically clean, character of Gruner Veltliner, adding an attractive tartness, almost-sweet fruit, and a touch of mineral. A nice extra is that this wine comes with a screw-top, so you can stick it back in the fridge and enjoy it over several days. In fact, I’ve been drinking this particular bottle for over a week, and it has not lost any freshness.

    Tarter than other gruners, like an albarino, this wine smacks of herbs, lemon-lime and wet rocks after a rain. Finishes clean. 4.5 stars out of 5. Sweetness=1 out of 10 (dry to sweet).

    Even inexpensive wines like the Veltliner #1 from Hirsch are quite pleasant—juicy and refreshing. The #1 has sold very well here in the States, Hirsch confided, especially after they put a cartoon of a stag on the label. (Hirsch is the German word for deer.) “When we changed the label, we sold five times as much wine,” he said. No surprise, perhaps, to the label designers, or to the drinkers of Australia’s Yellow Tail, the most famous cartoon-label wine of all.

    Juicy and bright, Johannes Hirsch’s 2008 Grüner Veltliner #1 shows plenty of pepper and herb and is clean and refreshing. This is another terrific value from the Kamptal region.

    The Hirsch Veltliner seemed to be a pretty good example of a Gruner Veltliner. It was light and tart with flavors of lime and green apple. Very zippy and easy to drink. I’m not going to lie and say that the wine went perfectly with asparagus and duck eggs, but it was okay. The acidity and slightly tingly texture of the wine was able to cut through the richness of the yolks nicely, but the wine’s flavor was dulled a bit by the asparagus and eggs. It went very well with the herbed new potatoes and crab crostini that I served alongside the asparagus, however, so it ended up being a good winesday after all. Plus, since this wine is so drinkable, I can screw the cap back on and enjoy the rest of it anytime I want this weekend!

    Nicely balanced, with a touch of lively acidity at midpalate. A clean, fresh nose with aromas of orchard fruit and talc. A very linear wine with a great midpalate sensation.

    So from there we took a swirl, a sniff and a sip and we came to just that conclusion: it's an every day Gruner. Bright nose of white pepper, apple and green peas, balanced acidity and a decent finish on the palate with the same characteristic Grüner qualities. To us, it was a good value wine, definitely what we paid (or would have paid for) and good company to light food or just good conversation.


  • Weinberghof Fritsch "Steinberg" Grüner Veltliner, $14 - $18.
    (Wagram/Donauland)
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    While the Steinberg does produce delicate wines, this is an exception. Powered and peppery, it is rich, ripe and full-bodied. Karl Fritsch has developed almost an international style, emphasizing fruit intensity, but he has not lost all the fine balance of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. 90 points.

    This flagship wine, from the single-vineyard ‘Steinberg’ plot, recently converted to biodynamic viticulture and viniculture practices. Mineral/slate and green apple on the nose, it washes the palate with a tangy, racy river of ripe pear and Granny Smith apple interwoven with lemongrass, peppery notes and racy citrus. There’s depth of flavour, excellent acidity and a touch of elegance. It punches well above the price with the quality-price balance tipped wildly in your favour. 4½ *

    ♣ Wine Spectator: 31 December 2008, 87 points; 31 May 2010, 88 points; 2011, 84 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (July 2013), 89 points.

    Distinctive aromas of tobacco, hyacinth blossom and pear. With its juicy body, intensity and acidity, this wine is anything but mundane. Crisp salty and peppery spices combine with wet rock and lemony nuances on the finish.

    2007 vintage: A supple, spicy style, with red peach and ruby grapefruit flavors. Finishes with subtle hints of anise and cream.
    2008 vintage: Juicy and spicy, with plenty of ripe apple, pear and peach flavors that are supported by fresh acidity. Finishes with spice and cream.
    2009 vintage: Ripe, showing modest apple and green peach flavors, with some smoke notes on the finish.


    This is a tight, mineral wine that is very crisp in character. It has green apple, lime and grapefruit flavors that are pure and brightened with acidity. 86 points.

    The 2009 Fritsch ‘Steinberg’ Grüner Veltliner provided an explosive attack on our taste buds from the first bite of our seaweed salad to the very last bite of our Double Fantasy sushi roll. It’s a gorgeous Austrian white, bursting with crisp acidity and freshness that worked tirelessly through the seaweed salad (a nightmare for any wine) and the line-up of delicacies being passed from soy sauce to wasabi. It was just an exceptional wine all–around, and a must try for any sushi lover. The only thing that could possibly make this Grüner any better would be to super-size it to a 1-Liter bottle, like so many other Austrian wineries are doing. (4 Stars).

    This one has the scent of grapefruit, white pepper and spring sprouts on the nose, on the tounge a distinct structure of light citrus fruit with spice and salty minerality. It goes down so smoothly with a bright sparkle as it hits the back of your throat.

    Closed, very crisp, apples and citrus. Good length.


  • Meinhard Forstreiter "Grande Reserve" Grüner Veltliner, $17 - $22.
    (Kremstal)

    Some quotations and facts:

    This is a full, aromatic and rich wine that is packed with ripe tropical and white fruits. It has crispness as well, giving a more mineral and zesty texture. There’s a characteristic touch of pepper along with a dry aftertaste that offers a strong contrast. This is a fine wine, full of character and ready to drink now. 93 points.

    A complex nose; it’s full of minerality, pepper, and even a little nuttiness. Tart white grapefruit, herbs, and a rich, savory edge in the mouth with lively acidity. A little bit of age for a good price.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (May 2013), 91 points.

    Plush and exuberantly creamy, this is filled with plenty of spicy notes that drape over the rich flavors of peach cobbler, ripe melon and candied ginger. Complex and alluring, with a firm frame and a rich finish that features a core of white plum and cherry.

    I loved this wine and would definitely buy it if I could find it. . . It was nice and crisp, but also very fruity without a lot of acidity or minerality. I liked it. Mmmm.

    Impressively compact, complex wine. It has rich flavors of peach, spiced pear to go with the intense acidity that is under the full-bodied surface. It should be aged three years or more. 93 points.


  • Brundlmayer "Terrassen" Grüner Veltliner, $18 - $27.
    (Kamptal)
         ($20.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    A great bottle of white from Austria. Crisp and cool, with classic Grüner notes of green apple, lime and white pepper, the 2011 "Kamptaler Terrassen" from Bründlmayer reboots the palate in much the way that Champagne sets you up for the meal to come.

    Terrassen means a blend of wine from different vineyards. This crisp example is lively with acidity and green fruit flavors. It is very pure, bright and ready to drink. 88 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (October 2011), 87 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (February 2013), 90 points.

    While the lightest Gruner Veltliner bottlings of this vintage at Brundlmayer were spare and overlain with green apple flavors, the 12% alcohol 2010 Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen revealed a classic varietal nose of fresh green bean and lime, mingled with gooseberry more reminiscent of Sauvignon, all informing a juicy, brisk, firm palate and finishing with ample refreshment and invigoration as well as a bitter note of fruit pip.

    Interesting aromas and flavors of glazed citrus and kiwifruit are matched with bracing acidity and a lush creaminess. This is pure, featuring a finish of ruby grapefruit and apple tart.

    Really racy and tangy. Exciting nose already! [2012 in 2013] Should settle down very nicely but very racy already.

    The nose features limes circled by flowers, very perfumed. In the mouth it is the concentrated essence of limes tempered by a touch of RS – delicious.

    Crisp and rich, offering juicy flavors of ripe ruby grapefruit, peach and baked apple, with hints of apricot. Salt and pepper notes mark the finish.

    This is happy wine, clean, light and bright in weight, soft and giving in lemon-cream fruit. A by-the-case buy for summer drinking.

    Sweet pure fruit, starring grapefruit flavors, is rounded with a more creamy character, and additional flavors of pear and fresh sliced melon, finished with pepper.


  • Schloss Gobelsburg "Steinsetz Reserve" Gruner Veltliner, $18 - $36.
    (Kamptaler)
         ($23.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    This gravelly vineyard is the last to be harvested .  . Subtle, peppery, herby nose leads to an intense, expressive, complex palate with a spicy finish. It’s quite rounded. Lovely full flavoured savoury character showing great weight and balance. Very good/excellent. 90/100.

    The best grüner veltliners of 2011 translate the ripeness of the vintage into a warm vibrancy of flavor, like this one, which Michael Moosbrugger pulled from 25-year-old vines on gravelly loess not far from his winery. It has a plump yellow-peach succulence but it’s the spice—a rooty, earthy, gingery note—that drives through the wine like bass notes through a woofer. It holds its vibrant freshness for days, delicious with a hunk of pork belly. 93 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (February 2013), 91 points.

    Features a flowery aroma, offering broad, well-defined flavors of salted almond, blood orange and grapefruit, with notes of lentil and gooseberry. The powerful, mineral-driven finish ends with notes of white pepper and tarragon.

    Restrained aromas of ripe pear and lemony herbs. Supple wine with a refreshing structure; flavors of tobacco, pepper and green apple carry through to a citrus-tinged finish. A versatile, well-balanced food wine for everyday enjoyment.

    Colour: Pale lemon. Aroma: Peach, white pepper, lemon, mineral. Taste: White pepper, lemon, lime, minerals, peach, acidic finish. Mark: C.

    This is a very graceful [and special] bottle of Grüner Veltliner. Peach, lemon, green apple, Daikon radish, crushed stone minerality, white pepper and white flowers. The texture is viscous like a fine Chablis, but with a light prickliness on the palate, balanced with medium-plus acidity.

    The 2005 Schlossberg Gobelsburger “Steinsetz” Gruner ended up being a terrific accompaniment to our Vietnamese fare. The wine had a white peppery and herbal quality that worked well with the dishes that had mint, cilantro and basil. It of course also had the trademark cool climate acidity that German and Austrian whites possess which helped counter any acid punch back from the Nuoc Cham (Traditional Vietnamese dippnig sauce, usually containing rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, carrots). Because this wine was an ’05 vintage, softer acidity was more apparent, but enough to still cleanse the palate. I think the age also contributed a slight almond and nutty flavor that sometimes appears in white wines that take on some age. It was a nice bonus that added to the complexity of the wine.

    Strong green herbs and spicy flowers mark the nose. In the mouth there is concentrated citrus, a bit of grapefruit in particular and its pith, a bit of petilance as well.

    This is a rockin' good time. And I mean that literally, as there are lots of rocks in here to go along with copious fruit. I could quibble about the alcohol, but I am drinking it a bit warm, so I won't. This is just an awesome mouthfull of Gruner! The aromatics remind me of the 1995 Brundlmayer Alte Reben when it was young, and that is about as high praise as I can give a Gruner. It's all there right in front of you, but oh so young. There's still a touch of youthful CO2 spritz, but underneath it all is a balanced acidity I would never expect from 2003. Lots of fruit and stones from the front to the back. Just delicious.

    Brimming with stone fruit, lime and nettle on nose with lovely juicy acidity counterbalanced with excellent texture and length.


For a Splurge

Owing to the pricing of Grüner Veltliners, the choices are many. But between this and that and these and those, the one that seems a sound choice is the Schloss Gobelsburg "Kamptal Tradition" Grüner Veltliner, retailing at about $40 to $52.



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