Grüner Veltliner is one of the most planted white grapes in Austria but these wines haven’t gained international renown until recent decades. Many have skipped Grüner in favor of other varietals, whether it be a more robust Chardonnay or higher acid Riesling. Grüner, however, is gaining popularity and along with that popularity comes a host of natural wine producers perfecting the grape outside of Austria.
From the neighboring Czech Republic to coastal Oregon, the unfiltered, unrefined expressions of this grape show how fruit, acid and spice produce young wines with a lot of vibrancy and no oak aging. Given that the examples we offer in the shop are all 30 dollars or less, they are also great values compared to more storied varietals. Though they drink well now, they could definitely age for some years to come.
Nestarec Forks and Knives 2015
Shake this bottle up when you first open it is to distribute the sediment from this Czech Republic Grüner, made from vines on loess soil at 220 meters above sea level. It is cloudy, pale yellow in the glass with a few very fine bubbles. Upon drinking, it coats the mouth upon first taste but quickly becomes bone dry, reminiscent of a cider, with nice acid and a little bit of citrus sweetness from meyer lemon and pineapple. Especially pleasant is the little bit of herbal bitterness on the end. This is not straightforward for the style but manages to bring apples, acid, citrus fruit and herbs together in perfect kind of harmony. It drinks well the first day but stays just as lively the next!
Schmelzer Grüner Veltliner 2015
Georg Schmelzer gives us biodynamic Grüner, site certified by Demeter, the only such certifying organization in the world. He grows his wines in various plots around the town of Gols, in the extreme eastern part of Austria, just over an hour outside of Vienna. This wine is straw colored with floral and apple aromas on the nose. It is juicy and stone fruit forward on the first sips, with acidic brightness and tanginess to match. The white pepper spice is also quite prominent on the mid-palette and a medium bodied roundness balances everything things out nicely. Clean and natural wines can coexist, Schmelzer shows us.
(To further taste his offerings, we’d recommend checking out the orange wine that we also have in stock.)
Minimus Grüner Veltliner 2015
Johan Vineyards, in Oregon, are situated in one of the coldest valleys in the state, and are hit with frequent morning fogs and blustery winds that the bring in the cool ocean air. Thankfully Grüner is a hardy grape and is able to weather this climatological stress. Like the Schmelzer, this vintage tends toward a more traditional expression of the grape. It is also loaded with stone fruit, generous acid, a lasting minerality throughout. With white pepper and fresh dill as prominent notes, it is also tangy and fresh on your tongue, with a clean and crisp finish that lasts for a while. This version receives eight months aging on lees, which helps accent the unfined and unfiltered characteristics of this wine.
Thanks for reading about some great examples of natural produced Grüners. Join us next week as we move a little closer to home, exploring a red, white and sparkling wine grown and produced domestically!