Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Singing Gruner Veltliner"

Groovy.  Trendy.  Rising Cult Status.  

These were some of the descriptors I saw when looking up Gruner Veltliner as a grape varietal.  It certainly isn't one that most shoppers would specifically head to the neighbourhood liquor store to buy - although I'll admit that it was one of the first wines we counted on The List because a bottle was brought to our Wine Boyz tasting of "wines you've never had before."

Most Gruner Veltliner comes from Austria as it's almost their national grape - and this one does just that.

50.  2005 Laurenz und Sophie Singing Gruner Veltliner (Austria)

More than a third of all vineyard acreage in Austria is planted with the grape - which is almost four times as much as the next varietal planted.  We don't see a lot of Austrian wines in Vancouver, although that is starting to change a little bit.  Most commentators seem to say that Austrian wineries have raised their standards since a well-publicized anti-freeze scandal back in 1985.  Higher standards predictably lead to higher quality and that creates its own higher demand.

I understand that G.V. is popular with riesling crowd (of which I belong) and is readily approachable by the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) folk.  The grape is apparently very adaptable to stylistic manipulation by the winemaker and it can, therefore, be seen in a number of taste profiles.

In fact, this winery offers up this "singing" version, in addition to its "friendly" and "charming" bottles.  The back label says that you just have to try it to find out why it's called "Singing."  While we had no problem quaffing down the bottle, it didn't exactly leave us warbling or dancing around the garden or living room - although maybe after another couple bottles of it, we might have.  The acidity did lend itself well to a splash of cassis for the first kir I've enjoyed in a long time.

The Rest of the World seems to only plant it if an ex-pat Austrian has a sentimental hankering for the taste of home.  I didn't find a single winery in Canada that produces a straight G.V. although there was a brief mention of a couple German-sounding names growing a bit for blending purposes.  I wonder if part of that reason is that the grape is a late-ripener and our limited growing season in the Great White North may not lend itself easily to economic production.  Maybe it's just that no one knows what it is.

Guess we'll see if GV is destined to follow in the steps of viognier and become a bit of a grape du jour.

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