Jules Taylor, Grüner Veltliner, 2010
Grüner Veltliner is an Austrian success story. Increasingly popular, well, fashionable - cool actually -, it stands for the renaissance of Austrian winemaking after the scandal of the 1980s. Leaving fashionability aside, the consistent quality of the Grüner ending up in my glass never fails to amaze me, and if you delve deeper into the subject you also learn how well these wines can age and how much substance they can have. So yet another Grüner to be reviewed on the Wine Rambler, you may say? Yes, but this one is different - it comes from New Zealand.
Never having tried a NZ Grüner before, I was very curious when I saw it in my favourite Battersea wine shop and took a bottle home with me to do some research - with Wiener Schnitzel, of course, and potato salad. Does New Zealand deliver?
First a few words of background story. The grapes for this wine come from vineyards in the Marlborough region, made into wine by Jules Taylor. Jules Taylor, it turns out, is a girl who, as her website informs us, loves the character of the Marlborough region. She makes wines from a range of grapes there, including Riesling and the inevitable Sauvignon Blanc, and in 2010 she made her first wine from Grüner Veltliner. This is what she has to say about it:
With its strong aromatic profile I believe it is a variety that should be eminently suited to the Marlborough region. I have gently pressed the berries after chilling the fruit to minimise oxidation and the juice was then cold settled over 48 hours before fermenting. The ferment was kept cool and long to retain the vibrant aromatics and then gently clarified, stabilised and bottled with a screw cap closure to retain freshness.
The wine that resulted from this process has 14% ABV, 12.6g/l of residual sugar and 7.2g of acid, again per litre. Clearly, this information will help you to understand the wine, won't it? I mention it for two reasons. First of all to say that while the Grüner does not exactly feel bone dry, I was a little surprised by how high the sugar content is. Secondly, well, I was not surprised to read about the alcohol level as that is much more present.
But first things first. On the nose the Grüner is fresh, with the usual aromas of green apple, ground pepper and citrus, plus spicy flowery notes, a little wax and, initially, some turpentine. So far not bad, I thought while happily digging into my schnitzel. Now thirsty, the first sip actually felt like drinking real Grüner. Clean, citrussy, fresh, a little sharp, clean, a sprinkling of mineral and good moments of juiciness. The acidity made the wine feel fresh, although in the finish I found it a little too sharp.
Together with the food that was fine though. What troubled me was that I found the wine too heavy. Ah, the Wine Rambler, with European arrogance, complains about high alcohol wines from the new world, I hear you say? Not quite. I still have very fond memories of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner that with 15% clocked in even higher than the Taylor wine. And yet the Austrian wine was easily polished off because it was so tasty and well balanced, whereas even between two of us we did not quite find the energy to finish the Taylor after we had eaten the schnitzels. While I found the balance not to be quite right, there still was much to like about this wine, so I remain somewhat undecided in my verdict.
NZ Gruner Veltliner
Be interesting to see if any NZ producers are making a leaner style we 'arrogant Europeans' can handle.
In reply to NZ Gruner Veltliner by Paola Tich
lean GV from NZ
they do GV from Forrest
I tasted the 2010: quite exotic and creamy. fmpov not enough acidity and mineralty - no pepper at all. Need to check 2011 soon.
In reply to lean GV from NZ by Thomas N. Burg
Thanks to both of you for
Thanks to both of you for your comments. The Taylor wine certainly does not lack in acidity and it also has some minerality, so it could be interesting for you, Thomas. If the alcohol balance changes somewhat it should be interesting.
I learn every day!
First time I hear, or read about GV from NZ. Interesting!
In reply to I learn every day! by Alex
Yeaah, the nursery sold a lot
Yeaah, the nursery sold a lot of clones. There are ca. 50 hecatares of GV in production. Mostly 1st or 2nd vintage.
In reply to Yeaah, the nursery sold a lot by Thomas N. Burg
Clones of Gruner in New World
As far as I know, there are only two different Gruner clones available in NZ. On the other hand, I have six different clones here on my property in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
In reply to Clones of Gruner in New World by Larry Jacobs
Grüner from the other side of the world
That's very interesting, Larry. As it happened I tasted an Adelaide Hills Grüner Veltliner on Christmas eve (Hahndorf Hill Winery). Leaner than the NZ one, very crisp and fresh - so in a way closer to the style you'd expect from Austria. It seems there is more interest in Grüner in your part of the world than I was aware of!
In reply to Grüner from the other side of the world by torsten
Torsten I can confirm that.
Torsten I can confirm that. The GVs I tasted from Australia (Hahndorf Hill GRU and GV Lark Hill) are both crisp and pretty elegant (comparable to the 2010 vintage in Austria).
AFAIK there is explicit commerical interest in GV in entire NZ whereas in Australia it is a handful of very ambitious winemakers.
At this point I favour the Aussie ones.
In reply to Torsten I can confirm that. by Thomas N. Burg
Thanks for sharing that,
Thanks for sharing that, Thomas. While you might be tempted to assume Australia would make the "bigger" wines, from the limited experience I have had so far I also prefer Australian GV over the NZ one.