Some wines start in one place and gain even more prominence in another (see Carmener or Malbec), but Grüner Veltliner is one of those grapes that starts and ends in the same place: Austria.

In this week’s tasting competition, discover what makes typical Austrian grapes so unique in their country of origin.

What is a tasting challenge? With 34 wines from 12 countries, you can improve your taste in wine every week – the Wine Tasting Challenge.

Today’s Grüner Veltliner comes from the Wachau region in Austria.

Many people have the idea that Austria is Germany’s little brother that you don’t often hear about. But Austria’s wine industry is exceptionally unique, and to prove it, one need only look at its flagship wines: Grüner Veltliner.

With an area of 17 034 hectares, Grüner Veltliner is the most widely grown grape variety in Austria and accounts for almost a third of the country’s total grape production.

What makes it so special? The unique flavors in one glass are a great opportunity.

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For a white wine, the Austrian Grüner Veltliner is very complex. It is known for its lightness and spiciness, with high acidity and citrus notes, accentuated by aromas of dry stone and spicy white pepper.

It’s fruit, spice and minerals all in one wine: no wonder the Austrians are proud of it.

We chose a Grüner from the Wachau, Austria’s most famous wine region (even though it only represents 3% of the country’s vineyards).

To make it even more interesting, we chose Terraissen wine, which means that the grapes were grown on terraces, often at high altitude.

2019 Domäne Wachau 2019 Federspiel Terrassen Grüner Veltliner

Look at this: Light straw.

Perfumes: Yellow apple, lime, broken stone, asparagus, white pepper. I know many of you are scratching your heads about asparagus, but trust me: Between that and the pepper, there is an almost salty quality to the nose of this wine!

At the palace: Huge acidity. Between the tartness and flavors of lime and slate, you’re left with the mental image of someone crushing citrus on stone to get one of the worst limes you’ve ever eaten in your life. What I think it is.

Assorted food: We often hear that Austrian white wine is associated with Asian cuisine, and for good reason. This light, dry and spicy Grüner Veltliner cuts elegantly through a sesame box or roast. I also thought lime would go well with a baked bone. And wouldn’t it be too cliché if I said Wiener schnitzel?

What we have learned about Austrian Grüner Veltliner

The reason why the Austrian Grüner Veltliner is undergoing such a change has to do with the climate and terroir. Due to its location and the high altitude of many vineyards, Austria tends to have a cooler wine climate.

This climate leads to slower growth of the grapes and thus to higher acidity. And it is precisely the rocky terraces of the Wachau that lead to this mineralization of the flint in the Grüner Weltliner. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of variety.

While that slight combination of lime, flint and pepper is the best indication that you’re drinking a Grüner, it doesn’t mean that all Austrian samples of their wine taste the same.

There are different styles all over Austria, you just have to learn a little bit of trade language.

Anyone who has found a bottle of Wachau wine labeled Emerald has stumbled upon something very special.

Aged longer than its lighter cousins, this Grüner Veltliner retains high acidity but has notes of honey, lemon and a nice nuttiness. This is truly a unique experience.

And speaking of unique experiences: May I congratulate Austria on making its wines available to the public in one-litre bottles? Zoom flight!

Last Impressions

There’s no doubt about it: It’s obvious. Grüner Veltliner distinguishes itself from most other white wines by its spiciness and tartness. It has the spiciness of Sauvignon Blanc, the acidity of Riesling and the easy consumption of Pinot Grigio.

No wonder Austria is so proud of this wine.

Which Grüner Veltliner did you taste this week? Tell us about it in the comments and feel free to show us pictures!

Would you like to know more about Austrian wine? Check out our map of Austrian wine regions and drink on the other side of the Danube!

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