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Tannic Panic! Issue #12: Grüner? I Hardly Know Her!
Grüner Veltliner: Austria's Not-So-Hidden Gem
Yooooooodelodel-ehheeeehoooo! Rise and shino ya filthy winos — and prepare to get grüner-ized because today we’re talking about GRÜNER VELTLINER: the finest grape in all the Austria.
If you’ve never tasted a grüner before, let’s promptly rectify that inequity because this zesty little number is an absolute must-add to your wholesome little value-hunting tool belt. These delectable white wines tend to be pretty inexpensive across the board, and ~IF YOU’RE LUCKY~ just may come in the far more sensibly sized 1L bottle, which makes for that much more of a good time.
Grüner veltliner is the most widely planted varietal in Austria (and hardly planted anywhere else), producing wines with a range of profiles, from light and easy-drinking to rich and full-bodied. It typically features brights acidity and flavors of citrus, stone fruit, and often hints of white pepper (the result of a compound in the grape skins called “rotundone” that also gives syrah its peppery character). The stony soils of the Austrian vineyards have been thought to infuse the wine with its trademark minerality (though in recent years there has been much more skepticism about whether it is actually possible for grapes to draw mineral flavors from the soil itself).
Grüner’s zippy acidity and fresh flavors make it extremely food friendly, pairing amazingly with everything from Thai cuisine (think rich green coconut curry), to Mexican (try a chile relleno), to roasted Brussels sprouts or even just a humble salad. You’ll see from our pairing recommendations with the bottles reviewed just how versatile it can be.
DID YOU KNOW… 'Grüner' translates to 'green' in German, which is pretty apt considering the fresh, vibrant flavors of the wine.
The magic of Grüner Veltliner isn't just in its lively flavors. It's a reflection of Austria's rich winemaking heritage. The vineyards of Weinviertal, Wachau, and Kremstal, nestled alongside the mighty Danube river, are among the prime regions churning out top-tier Grüner Veltliner wines. To give you a healthy spread, we’ve selected an interesting bottle under $20 from each of those regions that you can nab today from your local Total Wine & More.
… AND NOW FOR THE REVIEWS (IN ORDER OF PRICE):
2021 Berger Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Lower Austria / 1L / 12.5% ABV / 91 Points / $14 (VALUE PICK!)
Profile: Green apple, lemon, pineapple, white flowers, white pepper
Amazing value white wine with quintessential Grüner Veltliner varietal character. Not only is this bottle the cheapest of the bunch, it scored just as well as our other top pick today (the Gruber which you’ll read about shortly) — and to put a cherry on top, this bad boy comes in a 1L bottle so you get even more for your money.
It features flavors of green apple, lemon, pineapple, white flowers and that classic white pepper character, frolicking together to some traditional Austrian folk music. The finish is a good length, but you won’t even notice because you’re just gonna keep on sipping.
Pair with asparagus risotto.
2021 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner, Federspiel / 750ml / 12.5% ABV / 89 Points / $17
Profile: Lemon, lime, underripe nectarine, crushed rocks
WACHAU, HERE I COME! This one’s easy for the drinkin’ and don’t prompt much thinkin’ — Tis the lightest and simplest of the bunch, with crisp minerality and juicy citrus flavors.
Spin it right round with avocado and cucumber rolls from your local sushi joint and all of your tiny little dreams will come true.
2022 Gruber Röschitz Ried Hundspoint Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertal DAC / 750ml / 13% ABV / 91 Points / $18
Profile: apple, pear, nectarine, orange blossom, bubblegum, wet stones, white pepper
This bottle is a fuller bodied and riper style, with a deeper, more golden color than the others. It exhibits rich notes of ripe apple, pear, nectarine, orange blossom, and bubblegum with a mineral and peppery zest to each sip. Bright acidity gives it a great sense of freshness, and the layered flavors hang on the tongue for a lingering finish.
Pair with falafel and cucumber Tzatziki.
Ah yes — the country that invented Mozart, the Alps, and global conflict proudly presents: Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s liquid answer to sound, snow, and bickering.
It’s crisp, delicious, and Austrian af.
Happy drinking, people.
Isaac & Zach
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