Gruner veltliner is the most popular grape variety in Austria, accounting for a third of all plantings in that country. It is little known in the Asian region though some recent releases might change public perception.
Over the past decade gruner veltliner has become recognized for its freshness and acid zing, making it an ideal wine for summer.
So as the weather gets hotter it is time to experiment with less common grape varieties like gruner veltliner.
All wines should be served cold in summer, to enhance their natural acidity. Even red wines should be chilled before drinking.
Weingut Brundlmayer, translated as Brundlmayer winery, entered the Asian market three years ago and has been targeting top-end restaurants, aiming to get on prestige wine lists. Wine & Spirits magazine in the United States described Brundlmayer as the “best Austrian winery of the last 25 years”.
The 2010 Brundlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen is a blend of gruner veltliner from two different sources. Kamptaler refers to the Kamptal river, a tributary of the Danube, and terrassen acknowledges the fact the grapes came from terraced vineyards.
The wine is crisp, fresh and sappy with a slightly oily mouthfeel. The wine offers delicate aromas of lime and apple with a hint of spice and yeast. High acidity gives the wine a distinct zing with a dry finish.
It would be an ideal wine to drink with smoke-flavoured foods like smoked duck or smoked trout.
All Brundlmayer wines have been sealed with stelvin screw caps since 2007, which means the wine will reach you as fresh as when it left the vineyard.
The 2004 Brundlmayer Loiser Berg is also made from gruner veltliner but built in the auslese style, meaning it is picked late (at the end of October) when the grapes are very ripe.
The wine has good acidity and is youthful given its age. It smells of honey, marmalade, quinces and kumquat. Yet it has a mineral edge, a reflection of the rocky soils in which the vines grow.
It is sweet but not cloying – a lovely combination of fruit, acid and minerals with good length and a touch of class.
This would be a perfect wine for a range of Chinese food styles, but it would also pair well with rich dishes like foie gras or roasted pork.
The Nikolaihof vineyard is the oldest wine estate in Austria with a history dating back 2,000 years to Roman times. Documents at the estate show wine has been produced there from about 60 years before the birth of Christ.
The estate was also the first vineyard in the world to receive Demeter certification, in 1998. Demeter is the only ecological association in the world whose awards are recognised globally. It is based on bio-dynamic principles defined by Rudolf Steiner in 1924.
All 54 acres on the Nikolaihof estate are farmed using bio-dynamic principles, meaning they do not use chemicals, and fertilise the soil with natural herbs. They pick the grapes only on days appropriate to the bio-dynamic calendar.
The gruner veltliner is fermented in large old wooden barrels where the grapes do not receive any yeast. Rather, the wine is the result of the goodness of the fruit and the natural yeast on the bloom of the grapes.
The 2010 Nikolaihof Im Weingebirge gruner veltliner is a poised and controlled wine with aromas of rhubarb, lemon and white peach. It also has a smokey edge and hints of salty minerality. It would pair beautifully with smoked meats.
Grapes for the 2008 Nikolaihof Im Weingebirge gruner veltliner come from the oldest vineyard in central Europe, planted in the fifth century. The wine has marvelous focus with aromas of grapefruit and lentils. The bio-dynamic approach means the grapes have intense concentration of flavour.
This wine is a delight, with hints of herbs like thyme and rosemary wrapped inside zingy acid and a rich finish of spices and savoury sweetness.
* Published in China Post, 12 July 2012, page 10, under the headline “Exploring the surprising abundance of wine offerings coming out of Austria”. Find a link here.