Grüner Veltliner is a white grape best known in Austria, and, to a lesser extent, throughout eastern Europe. The name “Grüner Veltliner” (“grooh-ner VELT-leehn-er”) can be difficult to pronounce, so it is sometimes colloquially referred to as “Grüner”.
The Grüner Veltliner grape is versatile and can produce a wide array of wines, from light and quaffable to rich and concentrated. The best dry Grüner Veltliners are perfumed, bone dry and full bodied, with high acidity and distinctive notes of spice and white pepper. It tends to offer citrus fruit flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit. The best sweet wines produced from Grüner Veltliner showcase pronounced aromas of baking spice and stone fruit, with ripe fruit flavors and a rich, full mouthfeel that are balanced by ample acidity.
In the vineyard, Grüner Veltliner ripens too late for most of northern Europe, faring considerably better in eastern countries. Grüner Veltliner is susceptible to downy and powdery mildew. It can be highly productive, with large yields of small berries. Higher yields produce lesser quality wines of little varietal character, so top producers tightly control yields. Those wines produced using restricted yield are full bodied and rich, capable of long bottle ageing.
As Austria’s most widely planted grape variety, Grüner Veltliner is unsurprisingly found throughout the country. It is at its best in regions like Kamptal, Kremstal, Vienna, Wachau, Wagram and Weinviertel, and high-quality wines from the Wachau can be classified using the regional’s unique classification system—Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. Top producers here tend to make Grüner Veltliner wines in a rich, full-bodied style.
Austrian Grüner Veltliner may be used as the base wine for sparkling Sekt wines, while simple and youthful examples are customarily served by the glass at the traditional Austrian tavern, or Heuriger.
Beyond Austria, Grüner Veltliner is produced in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Germany. In the Czech Republic, the grape is known as either Veltlin or Veltínskè Zelené. Sprinkled throughout Hungary, Grüner Veltliner is known as Zöld Veltlini. It is grown in Slovakia as Veltlinske Zelené, and in Slovenia as Zeleni Vetlinac. Some plantings can also be found in the Rheinhessen region of Germany, and Alto Adige in Italy, where it is referred to as Veltliner.
Grüner Veltliner is also grown on a small scale in regions throughout North America. In the U.S., it can be found in various states such as California, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Plantings of Grüner Veltliner in Canada are concentrated in British Columbia.
Elsewhere in the New World, Grüner Veltliner can be found in Australia—notably in the Adelaide Hills—and in New Zealand’s Gisborne, Marlborough and Central Otago regions.
Grüner Veltliner has many synonyms other than those already mentioned, including Gruner Veltliner, Grüner Weltliner, Grauer Veltliner and Veltliner Gruner. This wine should not be confused with either Roter Veltliner or Frühoter Veltliner, two unrelated Austrian grape varieties.
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