Accessible, popular, flies off the shelves. These are not words I’d use to describe Grüner Veltliner, that wonderfully spicy, challenging, hard-to-pronounce Austrian white grape.
But GrüV wines can be really exciting, and they’re definitely worth checking out. Spicy and herbal yet rich and tropical, the wines are a classic pairing with all sorts of Indian and Asian foods.
I recently tasted through a few Grüners at Weygandt Wines in DC, which imports a slew of really good Austrian wines. From entry-level to high-end F.X. Pichler juice, the tasting represented a good cross-section of what you can expect from Austrian Grüner.
2014 Soellner Grüner Veltliner Wogenrain - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wagram
Lovely spice, herbs and bright green fruit on the nose. Tart and brisk, with minerals, spice and pepper to accent the crunchy green apples. Great way to introduce people to Grüner. (87 points)
2013 Soellner Grüner Veltliner Hengstberg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wagram
Spicy aromatics, some richer, more honeyed notes than the Wogenrain. Lush, rich palate but still plenty clean and brisk. Apricots and pears dashed with white pepper, herbs and honey. Love the creaminess and depth to this wine, but lots of spice and herbal complexities. (90 points)
2014 Weinkeller Aigner Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube - Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
Bright and intense aromatics of crushed chalk, rocks, shells and green herbs. Crisp, intense grip and acid, some richer elements. A racy wine yet shows some fullness and structure. Long, spicy finish. (88 points)
2014 Weinkeller Aigner Grüner Veltliner Reserve Privat - Austria, Niederösterreich, Kremstal
Rich and bold aromatics, much more forward than the 2014 Sandgrube, I get lots of slate and minerals along with the tropical fruit. Rich, exotic, plush, lots of tropical fruit but plenty of acid, minerals and smoky elements. (90 points)
2012 Franz Hirtzberger Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Rotes Tor - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Smells of lemons, limes, white pepper and pickling spices to me. Rich presence yet clean and clear, juicy white peach plays off a deep saline and slate aesthetic. White pepper, clover and a hint of hops, this is a complex and layered wine with a lot of time ahead. (91 points)
2011 Pichler-Krutzler Grüner Veltliner Wunderburg - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
Oily aromatics, with slate, spice, honeycomb and yellow apples. Clean, crisp, live-wire acidity but some bold structure. White peach and lime blend with chalk, shells, seaweed and green beans. Long, mineral-driven and spicy. Holding up wonderfully, with plenty of time. (90 points)
2013 F.X. Pichler Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Urgestein Terrassen - Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau
So bright and vibrant on the nose: green apples, kiwi, honey, laundry, minerals, chalk. Crisp, intense, zippy yet powerful. Needs time, but I’m loving these smashed rocks, strong herbs, spices and minerals. Rich, intense, but showing so much elegance and stuffing for the cellar. (92 points)