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At any age, Grüner Veltliner is among world’s great whites

on 26/02/14 at 10:58 am


200910-a-matters-grunerGrüner Veltliner has been whipsawed by wine fashion. This white wine of Austria was a darling of sommeliers when it first arrived on U.S. shores, then suffered consumer fatigue after too many trite references to “gru-vee” reduced it to a marketing fad. But its adherents want us to rank grüner with the top white wines of the world as much because of its longevity as its quality.

Longevity was the key argument at two wine tastings I attended in recent months in Manhattan. The first was sponsored by the Wine Marketing Board of Austria, the national trade association; the second by Michael Skurnik Wines, a leading importer, and Terry Theise, the wine broker who essentially introduced American sommeliers to gruner veltliner in the 1990s.

The objective of both tastings was to demonstrate that grüner can age as well as Austrian Riesling or even white Burgundy and therefore deserves to be ranked among the globe’s great white wines.

“My hope is that grüner veltliner will take its place as a classic instead of floating around in the constellation of things that are trendy,” Theise says. Gruner, he adds, “ages more steadily than Riesling, which zigzags through good and bad phases” over the years. His tasting featured an all-star lineup of producers from Austria’s Kamptal region: Brundlmayer, Schloss Gobelsburg, Hirsch and Hiedler.

Austrian consumers demand their grüner young. When I visited Austria in December 2012, several winemakers complained to me that they were already marketing that year’s vintage because of popular demand, although they felt the wines were not yet ready to drink.