Grüner Veltliner: Austria’s (Still) Best Kept Secret

by artfuldiner on September 13, 2023

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Gruner Veltliner“Until the 1990s very few wine lovers outside Austria had even heard of Grüner Veltliner.” So writes British wine guru Jancis Robinson. “Today,” she goes on to say, “no self-respecting restaurant wine list, whether in New York or Hong Kong, can afford to be without at least one example of this, Austria’s signature white wine grape.”

Has Grüner’s popularity truly become universal…? Or is Ms. Robinson merely indulging in hyperbole? Well… maybe a bit of both.”

I mean, just a few short weeks ago, at Le Bernardin in New York, we sipped a most incredible Austrian 2022 Alzinger Grüner Veltliner at a very reasonable price. After all, who am I to argue with the woman Decanter magazine has dubbed “the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world”?

Conversely, however – recognizing that Le Bernardin represents a rather unique culinary and oenological universe all its own – once you escape the gravitational influences of restaurant galaxies sporting Michelin stars, the situation changes dramatically. For example, walk into pretty much any restaurant of reasonable repute, request a glass of Pinot Grigio, and your server will nod knowingly. On the other hand, request a glass of Grüner Veltliner, and you’re likely to be the recipient of a blank stare. Think not…?? A year or two ago, I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir at a very popular upscale local restaurant: and, in all seriousness, our server asked: “What’s that?” Go figure. Things are not always what they seem.

There is absolutely no question that Grüner Veltliner is better known than it was a few of years, but it is still hardly a household word – even among wine Gruner Veltliner - Grapes on Vinelovers. Hopefully, this situation will change significantly, as Grüner is obviously a wine of inherent character and quality… as well as an incredible value for the money. You don’t have to spend a fortune to acquire a very well-made bottle. And it boasts a flavor profile that will appeal to fans of other popular grape varieties as well. Because of its citrus notes and occasional herbaceous quality, it will undoubtedly attract lovers of Sauvignon Blanc; and Pinot Grigio fans will appreciate its lovely texture and ability to pair with a wide range of foods.

In addition, when crafted with care, the Grüner grape is capable of producing remarkably rich white wines with an indisputable potential for greatness… As the 2002 London Tasting clearly demonstrated: Seven of the top ten places were awarded to Austrian wines – mainly Grüner Veltliners – over French white burgundies, with Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Vinothekfüllung 1990 taking top honors.

2020 Weinrieder Ried Schneiderberg Grüner Veltliner Niederosterreich: Located in the center of the Weinrieder Gruner Veltliner 2020Weinviertel region of Austria in the village of Kleinhadersdor, winery Weinrieder specializes in the production of fine white wines. Owner and winemaker Freidrich Rieder and his family are known for their high quality, fruit-driven wines and eisweins.

The estate is comprised of approximately 20 acres across south/southwest-facing sites, growing Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, and an indigenous red grape, St. Laurent, which is used to make a light pink eiswein. The single vineyards Birthal, Kugler, Schneiderberg, Hohenleiten, and Bockgärten are particularly highly rated.

As noted above, the 2020 Grüner Veltliner is sourced from Schneiderberg, the estate’s top vineyard. And, like many Austrian Grüners, it strikes the palate as an intriguing combo of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a nicely balanced acidity here, as well peppery notes, and a refreshing minerality. This is a wine that is quite versatile and goes well with a variety of foods… from grilled fish and deep-fried dishes – the famous Austrian wiener schnitzel, for instance – to traditional tafelspitz (boiled beef).

Normally priced around the $25.00 mark, the 2020 Weinrieder Ried Schneiderberg Grüner Veltliner Niederosterreich is currently available in Pennsylvania State Stores at $22.99.

2021 Cadre Band of Stones Grüner Veltliner: This is a wine, interestingly enough, that hails from – of all the unlikely places – Central Coast’s Edna Cadre Band of Stones Gruner 2021Valley in California. And, as the winemaker notes, this is a wine that touches both sides of the Grüner spectrum. It is bright, fresh, and vibrant, but also possesses a complex texture and fullness of body characteristic of Edna Valley white wines. There’s less acidity here and definitely more body than in the Weinrieder Grüner noted above. And, to be perfectly honest, having tasted these wines on back-to-back evenings, I much prefer the Edna Valley version.

The 2021 Cadre Band of Stones was also highly rated: 92 points from Wine Enthusiast and 91 points Wilfred Wong of By the way, it’s less expensive than the Weinrieder, readily available at Pennsylvania State Stores for $15.99. If you’re tired of oaky chardonnays, this is a marvelous alternative.



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