We asked 7th generation Michael Malat, and his father Gerald Malat of Weingut Malat in the Kremstal Region of Austria to describe the grape that has made their region famous.
WHAT IS GRÜNER VELTLINER?
Grüner Veltliner is a white grape variety that is indigenous to Austria and is the most widely planted grape in the country. It is a grape that can be made in diverse styles from lean to powerful, but it is a dry white wine that has good bright citrus acid.
WHERE IS GRÜNER VELTLINER GROWN?
Grüner Veltliner wines can be found throughout Austria, but the Danube area is known for producing the most suitable grapes due to its cooler climate and temperature fluctuations. Grüner Veltliner wines can also age well and can often be compared favorably to Riesling wines.
The Austrian Marketing Board’s excellent website goes beyond the Kremstal region where the Malat family farms and explains:
Grüner Veltliner is the most important autochthonous grape variety in Austria. It became most widespread during the 1950s when Lenz Moser’s high vine training system was introduced. Today, this variety is most heavily planted in Niederösterreich and northern Burgenland. Grüner Veltliner holds a special rank in several wine-growing regions as it is used to produce DAC wines that display the typical characteristics of their origins.
And while Austria is the true home of this noble grape, don’t forget examples from Oregon, like the beautiful wines made at Limited Addition by Chad and Bree Stock, and closer to home for those of us here in Chicago, Michigan, where there are many interesting sites for this grape!
WHAT ARE THE FLAVOR CHARACTERISTICS OF GRÜNER VELTLINER?
Grüner Veltliner wines often have herbal notes and citrus flavors, as well as a distinct spiciness. The acidity of Grüner Veltliner wines is a notable characteristic and makes them great for pairing with a variety of foods.
HOW SHOULD GRÜNER VELTLINER BE SERVED? WHAT FOOD PAIRS WELL WITH GRÜNER VELTLINER?
Simple, everyday Grüner Veltliners are lovely with to-go sushi, fresh vegetables, and white fish, simply prepared. More complex versions respond beautifully to more elevated sushi preparations, but also to elevated spice from coconut curries, to green salsas and a wide array of Thai and Vietnamese flavors. Gruner can have tremendous depth and umami is its friend. Consider pairing single vineyard Gruner’s like Michael Malat’s Ried Gottschelle with dishes that use fish sauce or dashi broth to layer in flavor. Or, just take Gerald Malat’s advice and know that “you can use Grüner Veltliner for all types of meals”!
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT STYLES OF GRÜNER VELTLINER?
The style of Grüner Veltliner varies depending on the harvest and quantity of grapes. Smaller harvests often produce mineral-rich wines, while larger harvests create a more typical style of Grüner Veltliner.
HOW DOES GRÜNER VELTLINER COMPARE TO OTHER WHITE WINES?
It can be compared to wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Gewürztraminer. Grüner Veltliner is known for its versatility, as it can be made into lighter, easy-to-drink wines or complex, full-bodied wines. It is a wine that can age beautifully and some will live for twenty to thirty years in the cellar.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF GRÜNER VELTLINER?
Again, the Austrian Wine Board helps, saying:
Grüner Veltliner, which most probably derives from a crossing with Traminer. The second parent remains unconfirmed, but it is thought to be a Century old variety discovered in St. Georgen in Burgenland. This grape variety was named after the place in which it was discovered because, genetic research was unable to attribute it to any known variety. Grüner Veltliner is not genetically related to Roter Veltliner or Frühroter Veltliner.