Gruner Veltliner: Delving deeper into Austria’s star grape variety
Gruner Veltliner, before 1990, was barely known outside of Austria. Today you find it on wine lists from London to New York, and Hong Kong to Sydney.
Austria’s Gruner has gained a rapid reputation over the last two decades thanks to its unique character. There’s almost always a peppery, spicy finish to its white wines, while balancing such complexity with a zippy freshness akin to dry Riesling and Sauvingon Blanc. Furthermore, the quality of Gruner in recent times has been so consistently high that no serious wine writer can ignore them.
Gruner is most popularly enjoyed in its youth; here it shares Riesling’s zing and Sauvignon’s pronounced fruits. The wines are often either lean or rounded and peachy. Rarer, more aged styles of Gruner can be rich and nutty with intensely spicy or honeyed notes on the finish.
If a winemaker has decided to oak their Gruner, you might discover notes like Brazil nuts, cream and a waxy texture to the wine. Oak-aged versions need time to develop, so if you’re buying a younger vintage make sure to opt for unoaked styles.
Gruner Veltliner around the world
A recent study showed there are now over 50,000 acres of Gruner worldwide with 75% coming from Austria; in fact, one vine in every three grown in Austria is Gruner. Its full name, Gruner Veltliner, literally means 'green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tirol'. It’s mainly grown in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), which is confusingly the name given to the north east area of the country. There’s also a sizeable amount of Gruner grown in Vienna, with some of the best examples coming from Wachau’s south-facing terraces along the Danube to the west of Vienna.
Gruner Veltliner is also grown widely in the Czech Republic, where it is usually called Veltlin, and in Hungary in Sopron, where it’s named Zöldveltelini. Small parcels of Gruner can also be found in Australia and the US as wineries begin to experiment with the variety outside of its homeland.
You’ll like Gruner Veltliner if you like…
Are you new to Gruner? No worries. You’ll find yourself sipping it and nodding along if you’re a fan of wines like dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. Gruner is almost always dry and also has similarities to Grenache Blanc, sharing its zippy and green notes; Pinot Blanc, which shares Gruner’s racy acidity, especially if you like Pinot Blanc from Alsace; and wines like Picpoul, Colombard or Vermentino that share Gruner’s herbaceous and fresh style.
Gruner is almost always best enjoyed chilled. Around 7C or take the wine out the fridge about 15-30 minutes before you drink it. The cooling down of the wine helps to soften the acidity and let you enjoy Gruner’s more fruity notes of lime, lemon, grapefruit and peach, while not drowning out all those interesting herby notes of lovage and tarragon and that classic white pepper Gruner spice.
Older Gruners, especially barrique aged Gruner Veltliner, can happily be sipped only lightly chilled. Here you’ll enjoy the notes of iris, honey and ginger.
How we chose our Gruner Veltliner
For the Gruner you enjoy in our cans, we wanted to showcase the best of this grape’s unique character. We’ve opted for a cooler climate Gruner that’s dry and full of refreshing citrus. The finish gives you the spicy white pepper note that makes Gruner so unique and the palate has a mouth-watering, juicy texture. It’s best enjoyed chilled, easy to do in a can, and you can try pairing it with some of the food suggestions below:
Try Gruner Veltliner with pork chops, picnic favourites like sausage rolls or pork pies, meat terrine or as a fresh drinks option with a steak and kidney pie. It’s also a delicious pairing with garlic chicken.
Gruner Veltliner is a great fish pairing wine. Opt for oily fish like trout or go Mediterranean with grilled sardines or shellfish like mussels and clams. It works a treat with salt, so anchovies are a perfect match.
Gruner is a superb pairing with seasonal veg like artichokes, or try with green beans fried in tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Also delicious with leek and potato soup, fresh salads with cherry tomatoes and Feta cheese, or stuffed bell peppers.
Cheese like Ossau-Iraty sheep’s cheese or soft cheese like Camembert and goat’s milk Brie work well. It’s also tasty with paneer.