Grüner Veltliner is actually a cross between Traminer and St Georgen and the flavours vary depending on its age. As well as having high acidity, the grape is fruit driven yet also has savoury characters so there really are lots of different sides to Grüner Veltliner. Primary fruit characters of citrusy and apple and stone fruit are synonymous with the grape and as it ages, aromas of tropical notes with nutty and honey aromas can develop. Savoury and herbaceous notes can include mushroom, radish, spice, dill and celery. As it develops it has been compared to some burgundies with its nutty character and can have mineral notes. The wine has different styles from easy drinking to more ‘serious’ styles and amazing ageing capabilities.
The grape performs well in climates where the nights are cold and the days are warm. The big difference in day and night temperatures helps to retain the acidity in the wine and enhance fruit concentration. As well as being grown in Austria, it is also found in the Czech Republic as Veltlin Zelene/Veltlinske Zelené and in Hungary it is known as Zoldveltelini. More recently it has been found in Australia, in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia where the region has a similar climate to its European counterparts with its warm days and cold nights.
One winery that has been leading the way in terms of plantings of Austrian grape varieties is Hahndorf Hill Winery, owned by Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson. Larry worked in South Africa establishing Mulderbosch Vineyards where he built up the business before emigrating to Australia with Marc in 1997. Here they purchased the winery and haven’t looked back since. In a former life, Marc was a copywriter and journalist. Today they jointly run the award-winning boutique winery with Larry looking after the vineyard and winery operations and Marc handling all the marketing and the cellar door.
The story of how Grüner Veltliner came to be at their vineyard goes back to their passion for Austrian grape varieties. Nine years ago, in 2006 they were able to import three different clones from Austria then 3 years later, they brought in 3 more clones and now have six clones of Grüner in the vineyard. Then the following year in 2010, the first vintage of a 100% Grüner Veltliner was released at the winery, the first in South Australia and the second within Australia.
Other European grapes that are grown at Hahndorf include Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch, known as Limberger in Germany, Lemberger in the state of Washington (USA) and Kékfrankos in Hungary. Back in 2008, the winery produced its first 100% Blaufränkisch which was the first also in Australia.
Not only does the winery have strong European roots but it is also located outside the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia, Hahndorf village. The winery also grows classic varieties; Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz.
On Friday 26th June, at Swanny Cellars, we’ll be holding a tasting of Grüner Veltliner and Blaufränkisch from the winery, keep reading the newsletter over the next few weeks for more information.