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Grüner Veltliner

How to pronounce Grüner Veltliner:
grew-ner velt-lee-ner

Austria’s most important grape is produced in a myriad of styles, the most popular of which are lean, herbaceous, and peppery with mouth-watering acidity.

Also known as: Veltlínské Zelené, Zöldveltelini

Table of Contents

Primary Flavors

  • Starfruit
  • Gooseberry
  • Green Bean
  • White Pepper
  • Crushed Gravel

Taste Profile

Grüner Veltliner is known for its spicy peppery aromas and lean style, but it can also produce full bodied rich styles. It all depends on how and where it’s grown.

On the nose, Grüner Veltliner delivers lime, lemon and grapefruit. There is also a green and herbaceous flavor that is often described as white pepper. In warmer parts of Austria, you’ll find riper fruit flavors such as peach and nectarine too.

On the palate a signature vein of very high acidity can be found. Most wines are bone dry, or might have a hint of residual sugar, but you can’t notice it with the very high acid. Styles range from light and zesty to full bodied and rich, again, depending on the climate. Most wines see no new oak, so expect that vein of freshness in all Grüners. The best Grüners become nutty and waxy with age.

Dry

Medium-light Body

None Tannins

High Acidity

11.5–13.5% ABV

How to Serve Grüner Veltliner Wine

Grüner Veltliner should be served ice cold if it’s a zesty, youthful style, however the more full-bodied, age-worthy wines can be served a little bit warmer. A white wine glass is perfect and there’s no need to decant, unless you’ve got an older wine, then give it a bit of time in a decanter to open up.

Traditional Austrian Wiener Schnitzel
Traditional Austrian Wiener Schnitzel pairs perfectly with Grüner Veltliner. Source: Flickr.


  • SERVE

    45–655°F / 7-12°C



  • GLASS TYPE

    White


  • DECANT

    No


  • CELLAR

    10+ Years

Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing

The acidity and spice in Grüner Veltliner matches perfectly with creamy or fatty dishes. The traditional pairing of Wiener Schnitzel is perfect, but Tonkatsu or even Ramen would be great too. Aged versions are great with hard mountain cheeses such as Gruyère or Appenzeller.

Gruner Veltliner wine glass with grapes
Grüner Veltliner grapes and green hint of the wine in the glass.

5 Fun Facts About Grüner Veltliner

  • The Peppery aroma found in Grüner Veltliner comes from the same compound that makes Syrah peppery – Rotundone.
  • Grüner Veltliner translates to “Green Wine of Veltlin”. Veltlin was an area in the lower Alps during the 1600’s that is now part of Valtellina, Italy.
  • A third of all vines in Austria are Grüner Veltliner.
  • Grüner Veltliner is not related to Roter Veltliner or Frühroter Veltliner.
  • Grüner Veltliner originates from Niederösterreich in Austria.
Gruner Veltliner Grown Map
Grüner Veltiner is mostly grown in Austria, but also found in Austria’s neighboring countries.

Where it Grows

75% of all Grüner Veltliner in the world is planted in Austria. Over 90% of those grow in one region of Austria, Niederösterreich.

  1. Austria: 35,524 acres (14,376 hectares)
  2. Slovakia: 4,020 acres (1,627 hectares)
  3. Czechia: 3,800 acres (1,538 hectares)
  4. USA: 148 acres (60 hectares)

Total Vineyard Area – 47,244 acres (19,119 hectares) (data from 2016)

Terraced Vineyards in the Autumn that are green and colden
Grüner Veltliner vines in Autumn along the Danube in the Wachau Valley. Photo by Chris de Wit.

Austria

What to expect: From light bodied, zesty dry wines to fuller bodied, rich and age-worthy styles, Austria is the home of Grüner Veltliner with a mosaic of styles to discover.

Check out three main regions in Austria that feature Grüner Veltliner and what to expect from each one.

Wachau Grüner Veltliner can be some of the most powerful and age-worthy in Austria. Thanks to the steeply terraced slopes and the gneiss soils you’ll find ripe peach and flint notes in the dry wines, many of which are perfect for aging. For the best examples look for Smaragd on the label. To learn more, check out our deep dive into the Wachau.

Weinviertel Grüner Veltliner is some of the spiciest and is generally made in an easy-drinking, light bodied, dry style. If you’re looking for that peppery kick, alongside arugula and lime notes, check out this region.

Kamptal Grüner Veltliner ranges from dry and spritzy like in the Weinviertel to more full-bodied as in the Wachau. For the best examples, look for Reserve on the label.

rotundone-wine-flavor-aroma
Naturally occurring aroma compound, Rotundone, found in Grüner Veltliner wines.

In-Depth Knowledge

Grüner Veltliner’s distinct characteristics can be attributed to its genetic makeup, with parent varieties Traminer and St. Georgener-Rebe contributing to its unique expression. The grape’s unique white pepper aroma is primarily derived from rotundone, a sesquiterpene present in its berry skins. Grüner Veltliner’s acidity is due to high concentrations of L- and D-tartaric acid isomers, which influence the wine’s structure and food-pairing capabilities.

Why such a range of styles?

Grüner Veltliner comes in a variety of styles in Austria, from simple and easy drinking to fuller bodied and age-worthy. Let’s discuss what winemakers do in the vineyard and in the winery to make this range for us.

In the Vineyard
In terms of viticulture, Grüner Veltliner thrives in cooler climates. Optimal grape development requires careful canopy management, including leaf removal and shoot thinning, to ensure sunlight exposure and airflow. Without careful canopy management and yield management Grüner Veltliner wines can become dilute and unappealing. Producers who practice careful canopy management will produce higher quality wines.

Grüner Veltliner has a preference for well-draining soils, such as loess and primary rock, which significantly influence its minerality and flavor concentration. Areas such as Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal all have high levels or loess and primary rock. So if you’re looking for that steely mineral edge, look to these regions.

In the Winery
In winemaking, Grüner Veltliner’s diverse styles are achieved through a combination of fermentation techniques, such as spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts or controlled fermentation with selected strains. Funkier versions will go through spontaneous fermentation, whilst more fruit forward wines might use selected yeasts.

Innovative winemakers experiment with skin contact which increases texture and intensity of aroma. Others are even trying partial whole-bunch fermentation, which also increases flavor compounds and texture.

Extended lees aging may also be done in some richer styles which can add a subtle toast aroma and increase the body and complexity of the wine. A few winemakers also experiment with barrel aging, which adds subtle smoke and spice aromas, though this is a small minority of producers.

If you’re looking for richer styles that may have been aged in oak or have extended lees aging, be sure to check the back label for more information.

References

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