Grüner Veltliner, also known as GruVe and often pronounced "Grooner" by Anglo-Saxons, is certainly hot property these days. Austria's signature white grape has won much critical acclaim and is now seen as cool and trendy. Most of it is consumed in Austria, and - even though Grüner can age very well - traditionally as a young, fresh wine that does not need much ageworthy complexity. Potato salad and Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded veal escalope) is one of the dishes the Austrians serve with it.
Some Grüner is made in a different style though, creating complex wines of beauty. Complexity and substance can be a good thing, but did the Jurtschitsch winery go a step too far by creating a Reserve Grüner with astonishing 15% abv?
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a white wine with 15% alcohol; and from Austria, not the new world! I had my doubts. It has to be said though that it looked beautiful, both the bottle (below) and the wine (above). A wonderfully clear golden colour, very shiny indeed. The nose is not quite as intense, but still very enticing and exciting, managing a good balance between ripe, fresh and elegant character. Honey dew melon and peach blend in with ground white pepper, celeriac and honey-mineral. Not bad, so far.
On the tongue the Grüner is very concentrated and intense, but also quite juicy. Fruit flavours mix with smoky, spicy notes and oaky nut aromas, all embedded in a herbal flavoursomeness and a long, cool finish. I found similarities to a lightly oaked Chardonnay, yet at the same time there was more substance and body, plus a more distinct aroma.
Astonishingly, you would never have noticed the strong alcohol (feel it, yes, but taste it, no). It just comes nicely embedded in flavour, substance and acidity. The Jurtschitsch Grüner easily beats all the high alcohol white wines I have tried so far. It is so quaffable that even after we finished the bottle I could still have seen myself drinking another glass.
I still don't desire this type of high alcohol wine in general, but if it is so well done, I can see myself wanting another bottle of this bold wine. Very good indeed.