Grüner Veltliner may not be a name on the tip of the tongue of the average wine lover, but there is quite a bit to like about this somewhat obscure varietal. Growing in popularity around the world, here’s what you should know about this potential rookie of the year:
Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape variety that has historically grown in Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic (where it is the second most widely grown white grape variety in the country), the Adelaide Hills wine region of South Australia and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. With a growing population in California, it is making gains in east coast vineyards too. It is identifiable because of the five-lobed leaves and long bunches of deep green grapes.
Although new to modern wine drinkers, this grape was grown in Roman times, The name Grüner Veltliner was first used in the 1800’s. Before that time it was known as Weißgipfler. That reduces the sting of trying to pronounce Grüner Veltliner! Determining the ancestry of this grape was difficult, with DNA analysis in the late 1990s naming Traminer as one parent of Grüner Veltliner, and an obscure Austrian grapevine from the village of Sankt Georgen am Leithagebirge located in eastern Austria. Valued as a food-friendly wine, it is often lightly fruity with enjoyable spice and white pepper notes.
Our introduction to Grüner Veltliner wine was through Darcie Kent Vineyards. Their 2016 Rava Blackjack Grüner Veltliner was recently featured at a wine club party, paired with a mahi mahi ceviche with avocado-raspberry chutney. Those of us without seafood allergies reported that the pairing was inspired. I donated my ceviche to my lovely bride and reported that the Grüner Veltliner was delicious all by itself.
So the next time you are in the mood for a dry white wine with enough personality to pair with dinner, give a Grüner Veltliner the nod. You might just have a new favorite!
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