Gruner Veltliner, arguably the original hipster wine, has grown up and become a standard in the classical pantheon of top white wines. Along the way it was revealed that in Austria, Gruner is often a simple table wine, served in crown-capped liter bottles and not the subject of fawning terms of endearment. Yes, Gruner Veltliner is capable of remarkable things, but it’s also a table top stalwart, and frankly therein lies its beauty. It has a flexibility few grapes can match.

Gruner image via ShutterstockGruner Veltliner, arguably the original hipster wine, has grown up and become a standard in the classical pantheon of top white wines. Along the way it was revealed that in Austria, Gruner is often a simple table wine, served in crown-capped liter bottles and not the subject of fawning terms of endearment. Yes, Gruner Veltliner is capable of remarkable things, but it’s also a table top stalwart, and frankly therein lies its beauty. It has a flexibility few grapes can match.

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.



2011 Wimmer-Czerny Gruner Veltliner Frumberg Wagram 13% $16

Dusty and soft on the nose with honeycomb and smoky, gravel aromas that gain intensity and are joined by hints of tree bark and white pepper with air. A touch soft in the mouth, this is broad and supple with nice mineral and slightly candied citrus and pear flavors. Showing nice detail on a modest scale, this gains lovely floral notes on the back end and unfurls fine, spicy and deep white orchard fruits across the long finish. I really like the juxtaposition of the elegant palate with the powerful finish. 90pts


2011 Karl Lagler Gruner Veltliner Federspiel Burgberg Wachau 12.5% $22

Pops on the nose with an early rush of yeastiness, followed by aromas of mineral talc, violet floral notes, light hints of peach and tangerine topped with a light minty note. This enters the mouth with a fair amount of richness and intensity; very round on the palate though with nice mineral/acid cut. There's a lot of peppery flavor here along with quartzy minerality and light peach, pear and citrus pith tones that lead to an intense, long finish. This lacks some elegance but delivers a lot of intensity and depth. 89pts


2010 Darcie Kent Gruner Veltliner Rava Blackjack Vineyard Monterey 13% $14

A touch waxy on the nose, there's plenty of peach and mango-toned citrus fruit here. A touch soft and round in the mouth, this delivers a nice mineral back end mouthful of lemon pith, white peach and green plum flavors that lead to a firm, moderately long finish which shows a touch of mineral cut and a lingering hint of sweet green herb on the finale. 88pts


2011 Nautilus Gruner Veltliner Marlborough NZ 13% $15

Rather subtle with lime zest aromas, gentle green pea, cactus leaf and green peppercorn aromas. A touch soft in the mouth and relatively light-bodied, though there is some attractive depth to the citrus pith flavors that are colored with green herb and peppercorn shadings. The finish shows more of a lemon/pineapple aspect to the fruit as well as pretty good length. 87pts


2010 Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner Clarksburg California 13.5% $12

Peppery and a little green on the nose, though there is a little over-ripeness here with honied and cooked fruit aromas of peach and white cherry thats a bit waxy. This enters the mouth with a nice level of richness and good, firm acids. There's plenty of fruit here, but it's much fresher than the nose would indicate. There's a light grassy note here and a touch of spice as well that drifts onto a fairly long finish, showing lovely green fruit and a nice firm texture. 87pts


2011 Pratsch Gruner Veltliner Organic Niederosterreich 12.5% $15/Liter

Lightly aromatic on the nose with hints of white pepper and dried grass accenting the lime and green pear aromas. Rather spritzy right out of the bottle. This shows off rather assertively dried herbal and lightly spiced flavors with good intensity. There's some subtle fruit here, lime pith and melon rind, but this is as savory as it is fruity and turns somewhat steeley on the modest finish. Good intensity to the flavors and well-balanced, this is an interesting if small and somewhat simple wine. Should be great with simple food. Comes in a liter bottle. 86pts