Austrian Monuments: Four Decades of Great Grüner Veltliner

In a tasting of Grüner Veltliner like none seen before in the US, Austrian wine pulled out all the stops rolling out the red carpet for top wine industry names such as Hugh Johnson, Steven Tanzer, Mary Ewing-Mulligan, and Eric Asimov, to name a few.

An expert panel made up of Aldo Sohm, Chef-Sommelier of Le Bernardin, Jancis Robinson, MW, author and acclaimed wine personality, Terry Theise, Importer and personality, and David Schidkneckt, wine critic, and moderated by Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, discussed hot topics in Austrian wine as the room tasted vintages of Grüner Veltliner dated from1971-2012.

The tasting was designed to demonstrate the aging potential of Grüner Veltliner and to showcase the grapes position as one a noble variety.picture 6

The tasting featured wines from the Reserve category which is a legal definition in Austria. These wines do not subscribe to the lighter, crisp, green apple with a hint of spice and effervescence philosophy, but rather show the true character of Grüner Veltliner and its place amongst the finest wines in the world.

In discussion, both Theise and Robinson admitted that whilst they had originally explored Austria for its Rieslings, they were awed by the complexity and power that Grüner Veltliner had to offer. Robinson also expressed that for the London market, where she lives, she finds that Grüner Veltliner is a grape that is considered to be noble already.

picture 10“There is nothing like Grüner Veltliner,” said Theise, “It’s, its own variable range of styles. High acidity is apparent, but that’s not  the only thing that makes it great.” Theise continued, “Grüner Veltliner had only been a single cepage grape for 50-60 years, but it has established itself a a bonafide modern classic.”

picture 8Sohm, commenting on his experiences with Grüner Veltliner in the US, stated that he was “surprised by how many people knew Grüner Veltliner,” when he arrived, “but,” he continued, “it’s because few only grapes pair so well with different cuisines.”

The panel also took on the recent idea that Grüner Veltliner is a “fad” grape. The conclusion: nope. Instead it’s that many people are still figuring Grüner Veltliner out themselves. Young sommeliers haver adopted it as eagerly as those who precede them.

In addition to these hot topics, there was lively discussion about the alcohol levels of Grüner Veltliner, “off-vintage” years – many of which were tasted -, and Grüner Veltliner’s place in the overall spectrum of wines.

Robinson noted that the first time she actually tasted, “minerality,” or, as she called it, “the ‘m’ word,” was from Austria’s Achleiten vineyard in Kamptal. Talk about good dirt.

The wines were served in six flights with an additional two reception wines, two sparkling intermission wines, and six served with the three course lunch.

VINTAGE ORIGIN STYLE/VINEYARD ESTATE
Reception 2012 Wachau Federspiel Terrassen Domäne Wachau
Reception 2012 Weinviertel DAC Ausstich Setzer
Flight VINTAGE ORIGIN VINEYARD ESTATE
A 1971 Kremstal Wieden Salomon Undhof
1983 Kamptal Weixelbaum
1985 Kremstal Spiegel Mantlerhof
B 1992 Wagram Schlossberg Fritsch
1993 Wachau Smaragd Vinothek Nikolaihof
1994 Weinviertel Hundsleiten Pfaffl
C 1996 Kamptal Alte Reben Bründlmayer
1997 Kamptal Gloriette Birgit Eichinger
1999 Kamptal Schenkenbichl Jurtschitsch
Flight VINTAGE ORIGIN VINEYARD ESTATE
D 2011 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd Loibenberg Tegernseerhof
2010 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd Achleiten Stockkultur Prager
2009 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd Honivogl Franz Hirtzberger
2008 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd “Vinothekfüllung” Knoll
E 2007 Kamptal DAC Reserve Käferberg Loimer
2006 Wagram Scheiben Leth
2005 Kremstal Privat Nigl
2004 Kamptal Tradition Schloss Gobelsburg
F 2003 Wagram “Tausend Rosen” Bernhard Ott
2002 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd Wösendorfer Hochrain Rudi Pichler
2001 Wachau Smaragd Smaragd Kellerberg F.X. Pichler
2000 Kremstal Senftenberger Ehrenfels Proidl
Flight VINTAGE ORIGIN VINEYARD ESTATE
G Österreichischer Sekt Grüner Veltliner Brut Szigeti
2010 Österreichischer Sekt Grüner Veltliner Steininger
3 x 2 Grüner Veltliner with Lunch: 2010, 2009, 2007
Flight VINTAGE ORIGIN VINEYARD ESTATE
H 2010 Kamptal DAC Reserve Maxiumum Hiedler
2010 Wachau Smaragd Steinertal Alzinger
I 2009 Traisental DAC Reserve Berg Markus Huber
2009 Traisental DAC Reserve Der Wein vom Stein Neumayer
J 2007 Kremstal DAC Reserve Tabor Forstreiter
2007 Kremstal DAC Reserve Gebling Josef Schmid

The tasting was a great success. The room was bustling with the whose who of the wine business and some even declared it to be the, “social event of the season.” We’ll have to agree.

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