Taste the difference, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, 2009

Taste the difference, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, 2009

In my quest to find interesting German and Austrian wines in UK supermarkets, I recently came across an excellent Austrian Grüner Veltliner, sold in Sainsbury's 'taste the difference' range. I love Grüner, especially with food, and this wine had the added benefit of being made by a well known Austrian winemaker, Markus Huber. When I saw that the 2009 vintage hit the shelves, I had to grab a bottle to see if it would be as good as the 2008.

Well, it is certainly a decent wine, to answer that question straight away, but it also confused the hell out of me. So imagine you sit down with friends, you expect a dry, crisp white wine, you circle the table, pouring wine, and before you are done the first guest shouts: 'bubblegum'. I looked confused, so did the others, but before I could sit down and inspect the wine closer everyone started nodding - and I joined a few seconds later. A wine that smells of bubblegum. This was most confusing. This is not to say that it just smelled of bubblegum - in fact, all the lovely trademarks for Grüner Veltliner were present too, such as white pepper, green apple and citrus acidity.

The bubblegum experience continued on the tongue, in a very delicate and not at all unpleasant way (don't think cheap bubblegum, think (if that were possible) lovely, hand-crafted bubblegum), adding an extra layer to a wine otherwise dominated by green apple and peppery notes, a wine that was sharp and crisp.

Everyone agreed it was a decent wine, and especially those of my guests who had not tried Austrian whites before said they might seek out similar wines, or even this one, in the future. Personally though, I prefer the 2008 that seemed to me to be the more coherent wine. If you can live with a wine with bubblegum aromas, you might find this quite pleasing.


Submitted by David Strange Saturday, 25/09/2010

Hi Torsten,

I showed that label to some wine enthusiasts who are just starting out their wonderful journey into the joyous world of fine wine. All they could tell about it was that it came from Austria: they had no idea what grape variety it was made from or region of origin. I feel with some of the more emerging wine producing areas they would do well to plough a lot of fun tokens into consumer education.


Submitted by torsten Sunday, 26/09/2010

In reply to by David Strange

Hi David,

Many thanks for your comment. I agree that wine labels can be difficult, but I am not sure if the problem only applies to emerging wine countries (be careful to say that to the face of Austrian winemakers though!). After all, how many wine drinkers would know where the Hermitage you seem to stock up at the moment comes from or from which varietals its is made? The French do certainly not give the impression they care much about making that too clear. After all, it is a Chablis Grand Cru, what more do you need to know?!

With regards to Austria I do agree though that they are not as well known in the UK as they should (considering how good Austrian wines are these days), and they could certainly profit from a well executed marketing/education campaign.

I am looking forward to reading your Hermitage reviews in 15-20 years from now!


Submitted by Constance Cham… Monday, 27/09/2010

In reply to by torsten

Hi all,

I thought I'd chime in here and, hopefully, provide a bit of help.
Austrian wine labels CAN be quite confusing - as can several other countries. We've written a few things on the Austrian Wine USA Blog that might help with deciphering... other important thing to remember is maybe you've found the grape, and you just didn't know it existed before :)

here's the link : austrianwineusa.com
specifically: http://austrianwineusa.com/2010/09/13/understanding-the-austrian-wine-l… <-- may help!

Submitted by torsten Monday, 27/09/2010

In reply to by Constance Cham…

Thanks very much for this, Constance. Personally, I do almost find Austrian wine labels less complicated than German ones, but that may only be because Germans like printing ridiculously sounding vineyard names on the label. 'Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl' anyone? Having said that, some of the German producers and vineyards may also be better known in the Anglophone world...