While it might sound like the sigh a Boer farmer makes when adjusting his hernia, Gruner Veltliner (pronounced ‘grooner velt leaner’) is actually a noble and highly sought after white wine.
It comes in a range of styles – from lean, dry, zesty drops like Riesling to medium to full bodied, complex aged styles reminiscent of good White Burgundy – but most people enjoy it for its crisp acid burst on the tongue.
So why haven’t you seen this refreshing white, elbowing Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay off the bottle shop shelves?
That’s because until 2010 Gruner Veltliner was mainly produced in the tiny regions of Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal northwest of Vienna and consumed in its entirety by chirpy Austrians tucking into their wiener schnitzels.
But all that has changed with the Adelaide Hills seizing the mantle as Australia’s Gruner Veltliner Capital over the last five years.
Anyone familiar with the Hills will know that it makes superb Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay so it follows that other white wine varieties should also do well there.
In fact, the warm (but not too hot) ripening season and the cool even chilly nights in the Adelaide Hills replicate pretty closely the Austrian high country where Gruner Veltliner is grown. Add to that the similarity in soils between the two areas – rich red clay soils overlaying metamorphic rocks such as slate and schist and quartz – and the only thing missing are the Von Trapp Family singers.
Gruner Veltliner has long been regarded as a versatile food friendly wine, with a flavour profile ranging from lemons and grapefruit to a nutty spiciness suggesting white pepper and ginger.
Adelaide Hills GVs have that characteristic acid cut marrying well with fatty meat dishes like pork, veal, terrines (and of course Kanmantoo Mallee smoked mettwurst). However, its spiciness also complements modern Australian dishes influenced by Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese flavours – chilli heat, lime and lemon sourness and soy umami.
Foodies also search out cellar aged Gruner Veltliner where the fruit has turned to ripe apricot and nectarine flavours, superb sippers with soft cheeses like camembert or ricotta. A good Gruner Veltliner will last for more than 15 years, outliving many red wines.
In 2014 the Adelaide Hills Wine Show became the first regional wine show in Australia to host a specific Gruner Veltliner category and there are now 17 wineries that are members of the GGG (Gruner Growers Group) with growers and winemakers holding regular meetings, tastings and field trips to improve their viticulture and winemaking.