Grüner Veltliner wine grape

Grüner Veltliner
Fashionable white grape Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s signature variety, covering almost a third of all her vineyards.  Before the Second World War it played only a minor role, but it proved especially well suited to the Hochkultur high vine training system developed by Lenz Moser in the 1920s and enthusiastically adopted by almost all Austrian producers in the Fifties.  Better suited to making dry wines than sweet ones, it also benefited from Austria’s shift to dryer wines in the Eighties and Nineties.
 
Its stronghold is in Austria’s white wine dominated northeast, close to Vienna.  North of Vienna the Weinviertel DAC produces the most Grüner, usually in the light, delicate style designed to be drunk very young in the famous Heuriger taverns of the capital.  The best examples of the grape, however, come from west of the city, especially from the DACs of Wachau, Kampstal and Kremstal, whose steeply terraced vineyards are set into the valley sides of the Danube and its tributaries.  The deep loess (wind-blown silt) soils common here seem especially suited to the grape.
 
Outside Austria, Grüner Veltliner (often shortened to Gru V by English speakers) is a rare beast.  It is most often found in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which border Austria’s northeast, but little of their wine gets exported.  There’s also some in Hungary, and some experimental plantings are starting to appear in New World countries, especially New Zealand.
 
Its name means "green from Veltlin". Veltlin or Valtellina is a valley in northern Italy on the Swiss border which was once a vital trade route through the Alps.  It has given its name to a group of grape varieties that were supposed to have originated there, or perhaps spread through it.  However, Gru V does not seem to be one of them.  It almost certainly originated in Austria, and is not related to any of the other members of the Veltliner family.  The first record of its current name dates from 1855; prior to that it was known as Weissgipfler.  DNA testing has revealed that it is the child of Traminer and an almost extinct variety called St. Georgener which has been reduced to a single ancient vine in the village of St. Georgen am Leithagebirge, 30km south of Vienna.
 
Veltliner may be a misnomer, but the Grüner is certainly apt. Its wines smell and taste green: of limes, green apples, capsicums, cucumber and celery.  They have crunchy acidity and a white pepper spiciness.  Lighter examples should be drunk young, but more concentrated ones can age very well, becoming quite Burgundian.  Gru V has gained fame outside Austria in recent years for its superb ability to match food, aided by some notable blind tastings in which world experts have rated its best wines higher than the most prestigious Chardonnays from France, Italy and the New World.

Decanting Club wines containing: Grüner Veltliner

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