Gruner image via Shutterstock
It’s not surprising then that producers outside of Austria want to cash in on the Gruner phenomenon. Having worked hard to establish Gruner Veltliner as a grape for everyone, the Austrians must now be a little concerned, as wineries from as far away as New Zealand and California try to capitalize on these renowned grapes. While the wines I tasted were pretty good, again attesting to the brilliance and potential of Gruner Veltliner the grape, I would say that for the most part the Austrians have little to fear as of yet.
What new world winemakers are able to produce are wines that certainly capture the essence of the grape, but they also reveal their warmer climates and perhaps richer soils with their rounded textures and riper fruit profiles. They are attractive wines for sure, but they will generally appeal to a different audience than the typical Austrian Gruner Veltliner, which shows a leaner, tauter style with bright fruit flavors and often the profound minerality the grape can exhibit.
Still, that’s not to say that disruptive forces are not at work. Consider for example, that Gruner Veltliner represents 50 percent of the new varieties planted in New Zealand in 2010 and 2011, and while plantings in California remain tiny, about 50 acres, the growth from the first planting of a third of an acre back in 2006 at the Von Strasser winery in Napa Valley’s Diamond Mountain up through today has been swift and has attracted lots of attention. One can only imagine what might happen in places like Oregon and New York’s Finger Lakes districts, where the climate seems ideally suited for Gruner.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Gruner with so many developments on the horizon, but at least for the time being Austria has little to be concerned about. If you want to learn more about Austrian Gruner Veltliner, make sure you check out the reports published last week by our friends who attended Snooth’s PVA Wine Writer’s Symposium this past March. We had an amazing tasting hosted and led by Aldo Sohm, who brought the terroir and styles of Austrian Gruner to life and inspired some exceptional articles.