G’Day WineHunters. Today I want to write about Grüner Veltliner; a varietal that few people are familiar with and which comes under the umbrella of varietals about which I am often asked how it is they are grown in Australia. The short answer is, if the climate and terroir of its original source is similar elsewhere then it can also flourish in that elsewhere. For example, the King Valley in Victoria (Southeast Australia) does very well with several Italian varietals because their conditions are similar to those in Italy. Verdelho, native to Madeira, flourishes in the hot conditions of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. And, Grüner Veltliner, an intriguing and delightful varietal is predominantly associated with Austria, has also found a home and gained recognition in parts of Australia. Before I share some insights about this distinctive varietal let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Let’s call it Gru. Just Gru.
Gru is a white grape variety known for producing wines with vibrant acidity, refreshing flavors, and a unique aromatic profile. Typically you’ll notice white pepper, green apple, citrus, and sometimes hints of herbs or spices. There’s a lot to notice on the nose and palate with Gru: kind of a platypus of a varietal.
Back home, Gru is primarily grown in cool climate regions such as the Adelaide Hills (where I come from and pictured here), Tasmania and the Mornington Peninsula. These areas offer the ideal conditions for the grape to thrive, allowing it to develop its characteristic flavors and maintain its refreshing acidity.
Australian winemakers have embraced Gru and have put their own twist on it, resulting in wines that showcase both the grape's traditional qualities and the unique characteristics of the local terroir. You may find variations in style, ranging from lighter, fruit-driven expressions to more complex and textural wines with additional barrel fermentation or aging. Larry at Hahndorf Hill pioneered planting it several years ago and has led the way in showing its versatility. He has been rewarded with several international wine show gold medals competing against (you guessed it) Austrian Grüner Veltliner's.
Larry Jacobs (pictured here) is the winemaker and owner of Hahndorf Hill winery and one of the pioneering winemakers to bring Gruner Veltliner to the region. Larry was the winemaker who opened our eyes to the Gru phenomenon happening in the "Hills".
When it comes to food pairings, Gru’s versatility shines. The grape's natural, zesty acidity contributes to its crisp and lively character, making it our go to for those “one plus one equals three” food pairings.
It pairs wonderfully with seafood, especially oysters, prawns, and grilled fish. It also complements vegetarian dishes, salads, light poultry and Asian cuisine thanks to its ability to handle various spices and flavors.
So while Grüner Veltliner may have originated in Austria, Australia has embraced this grape variety and crafted some exceptional wines. If you're after a white wine that offers a balance of refreshing acidity, lively flavors and a touch of uniqueness, exploring Australian Gru can be a delightful adventure. Give it a go and impress your mates!