AMBASSADOR TO THE WORLD
AUSTRIA - 2021-05-10
A good wine is and was always a cultural and gastronomic ambassador. At least since the Roman Empire wine was an essential trade good in the middle European area. When Celtic populations gain taste and pleasure to the wine and integrated further on into their gastronomic heritage. So it’s no surprise that famous Bohemian, Austrian and Hungarian Food-Culture was since their early development close the wine and the regional grapes.
„Grüner Veltliner“ (Green Veltliner) is a white wine grape variety grown primarily in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The leaves of the grape vine are five-lobed with bunches that are long but compact, and deep green grapes that ripen in mid-late October in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2008, Grüner Veltliner plantations in Austria stood at 17.151 hectares (42.380 acres) and it accounts for 32.6% of all vineyards in the country, almost all of it being grown in the northeast of the country. Thus, it is the most-planted grape variety in Austria.
Some is made into sparkling wine in the far northeast around the village of Poysdorf. Along the Danube to the west of Vienna, in Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal, it grows with Riesling in terraces on slopes so steep they can barely retain any soil. The result is a very pure, mineral wine capable of long aging, that stands in comparison with some great wines of the world. In recent blind tastings organized by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Grüner Veltliners have beaten world-class Chardonnays from the likes of Mondavi and Maison Louis Latour.
Outside of Austria, Grüner Veltliner is the second most widely grown white grape variety in the Czech Republic, encompassing approximately 2.120 hectares (5.200 acres) and resulting in approximately 11% of Czech wine production. In recent years a few US wineries have started to grow and bottle Grüner Veltliner, including wineries and vineyards in Massachusetts, Oregon, Maryland, the North Fork of Long Island AVA and Finger Lakes AVA regions of New York State, Napa Valley, Clarksburg AVA, Monterey AVA and Santa Ynez Valley AVA in California, Ashtabula County, Ohio, Southern New Jersey winery Bellevue Winery, Pennsylvania, and along the Lake Michigan Shore AVA of Southwest Michigan. Grüner Veltliner is also planted in Australia, particularly in the Adelaide Hills wine region in South Australia, as well as the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada.
Some ampelographers (such as Hermann Goethe in his 1887 handbook of ampelography) have long assumed that Grüner Veltliner is not related to the other varieties with "Veltliner" in their name (such as Roter Veltliner), or that it is only distantly related. A first DNA analysis in the late 1990's secured Savagnin (Traminer) as one parent of Grüner Veltliner, but was not able to identify the other parent among the candidates studied. The other parent was later found to be an originally unnamed variety of which only a single, abandoned, very old and weakened vine was found in "Sankt Georgen am Leithagebirge" outside the small city of Eisenstadt in Austria. The grape is therefore referred to as St. Georgener-Rebe or "St. Georgen-vine".
Grüner Veltliner has a reputation of being a particularly food-friendly wine and is a popular offering on restaurant wine lists. It is made into wines of many different styles - much is intended for drinking young in the „Heuriger" (local mostly very traditional restaurants serving new wine) of Vienna, a little is made into sparkling wine, but some is capable of long ageing. The steep vineyards of the Danube (Donau) west of Vienna produce very pure, mineral Grüner Veltliners intended for laying down. Down in the plains, citrus and peach flavours are more apparent, with spicy notes of pepper and sometimes tobacco.
Text: Red. / Photo: Arno Senoner by Unsplash
THE ZWEIGELT - A SUCCESS STORY
AUSTRIA - 2021-06-11
Rarely is deep thought given to a good wine to accompany a solid meal or a hearty snack. Very often sounding names have been put on wine lists or by gourmets. Rarely does the gourmet become aware of the story behind the wine glass. We want to change this a little with the Austrian success story of the red wine: ZWEIGELT.
The variety, a new breed from two autochthonous Austrian grape varieties, is now the most widespread red wine variety in Austria.
As early as the 1950s, Lenz Moser recognised the suitability of the variety "Blaufränkisch x St. Laurent" for the cultivation form of high culture and henceforth endeavoured to name it after its breeder, Friedrich Zweigelt, as he considered the designation "Blaufränkisch x St. Laurent" to be too long.
The official name "Zweigeltrebe Blau" first appeared in 1972 in the then new vine variety register for quality wines. In 1978, the variety name was changed to "Blauer Zweigelt" and the synonym "Rotburger" was created. This was to emphasise the common origin of the new varieties Blauburger, Goldburger and Rotburger/Blauer Zweigelt.
The cultivation area of this grape variety with over 6400 hectares is the largest in Austria. In addition, this grape is also cultivated in smaller areas in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary and is enjoying increasing popularity in the latter countries both in cultivation and consumption. The wines are rich in substance, fruity and have a violet-reddish colour. The bouquet often has vanilla aromas and soft tannins in the finish, with a characteristic sour cherry aroma when young.
Such wines are only achieved with yield regulation, professional vinification and ageing (for example in barrique barrels), which gives them a long shelf life. This grape is vinified both as a single variety and as a blending partner in cuvées. If the yield is too high, the wines become thin, light red in colour and unharmonious in taste. All in all, a perfect companion to almost all dishes or occasions where the wine should be present but not dominate.
Text: Red. / Photo: Lefteris Kallergis by Unsplash