The really top Grüners can be expensive, but it’s amazing how much flavour and personality Austria’s most widely planted and distinctive grape can deliver at just £12.49. This single vineyard example from Manfred Felsner hails from one of the best sites in Gedersdorf and is fresh, peppery and intense, with pear and citrus peel notes, refreshingly low alcohol and a long, stony, persistent finish. A really good introduction to an under-valued variety.
White Varietal: Grüner Veltliner
2013 Blank Canvas Grüner Veltliner, Rapaura, Marlborough( £16.99, 13%, Bottle Apostle, Cambridge Wine Merchants )
Grüner Veltliner is rare enough in New Zealand, but one with six years of bottle age is unique. But what a brilliant wine this is. Part of Matt Thomson and Sophie Parker-Thomson’s off-the-wall series of small volume Kiwi whites and reds, this wouldn’t look out of place in a line up of top Austrian examples of the grape. Partially barrel fermented in larger French oak barrels, it’s bright, focused and remarkably youthful, with notes of bay leaf and white pepper, crunchy minerality and pear and citrus fruit.
2015 Diemersdal Estate Grüner Veltliner, Durbanville( £11.99, 14%, Majestic )
One of those wines that you’re just dying to slip into a blind tasting, this comes from cool (for the Cape) Durbanville and wouldn’t be outclassed by many Austrian Grüners at the same price level. Spices, green apple and bay leaf notes are underpinned by zesty, crunchy acidity and plenty of mid-palate texture. Promising stuff.
2014 Weingut Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner Morrison Signature, Niederösterreich( £8, 12%, Morrisons )
It’s great to see an Austrian Grüner of this quality in a major supermarket. It’s not a power packed wine, but what it lacks in weight, it makes up for in freshness. Floral and medium weight, with some pepper spice, pear and citrus fruit flavours and a zesty, tangy finish. A really good food wine – and I don’t say that very often.
Newcomers on the sceneby Matt Walls
2011 Gut Oggau Theodore, Burgenland( POA, 12%, Dynamic Wines )
Terrific freshness in this blend of Grüner Veltliner and Weissburgunder (AKA Pinot Blanc) – a beguiling hint of onion skin on the nose gives way to a creamy and slightly vegetal palate, and a mineral finish. This wine spent a few days on the skins, giving it just a bit more structure and body than you might expect.
2011 Gut Oggau Timotheus, Burgenland( POA, 13%, Dynamic Wines )
Just like the caricature on the label, this is a big broad wine. White peaches, apricot and kiwi flavours are all brilliantly knitted together with a moreish creamy, nutty texture. Some skin contact and maturation in large, old oak barrels has provided body and structure.
It’s different enough to make you sit up and notice, without being remotely scary or “difficult”. Limestone soil.
2009 Gut Oggau Mechtild, Burgenland( POA, 13%, Dynamic Wines )
Mechtild is one of two single vineyard wines made at Gut Oggau, in this case 60 year old Grüner Veltliner. There’s a salty, iodine tang on the nose, yielding to a fat, creamy palate. Fresh acidity and a lovely mineral finish.
2007 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Reserve, Kremstal( £45, 12.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd )
This brilliant biodynamic estate is based in the Wachau on the “wrong” side of the Danube, but this wine hails from vineyards in neighbouring Kremstal. It’s an incredible Riesling: intense, focused and minerally with remarkable texture, density and concentration. Honey, white flowers and a stony undertow, with spice, creamy lees and a finish that lasts for minutes. The wine will develop for at least another decade in bottle.