We’re going Groovy

Kiwi winemakers are restless spirits. They’ve proved beyond doubt that New Zealand can make world class white wines from a handful of well known grape varieties and are now looking for the next big challenge. Albariño, Arneis, Marsanne and Sauvignon Gris have all been identified as hot prospects but in my view the Austrian grape variety Grüner Veltliner is the strongest contender for “NZ’s next top model”.

I recently spent a couple of weeks in Austria where I tasted a large number of Grüner Veltliner wines. At best they are concentrated, aromatic dry wines with the ability to age magnificently in the bottle. At worst they are deliciously refreshing though rather neutral “cafe” wines for serious social sipping.

“The best Grüner Veltliners are made by winemakers who wear overcoats” I was told by an Austrian winemaker who I noted was wearing a heavy tweed jacket. If he’s right then the cooler South Island wine regions may have the edge over those from further north. It’s too early to say, but I highly recommend my selections from both islands.

How to pronounce Grüner Veltliner: Don’t try. Just say “GruVee”, it’s trendier.

Forrest Estate The Doctors Grüner Veltliner, Marlborough 2010 – $23

Forrest Estate’s first vintage of the variety and the first example of a Marlborough Grüner Veltliner I’ve tasted. Fresh and vibrant wine with typical pepper plus a medley of tree fruits and a suggestion of floral flavours. Quite concentrated and utterly delicious. A great first attempt that bodes well for the future. – view on bobcampbell.nz

Coopers Creek SV “The Groover” Grüner Veltliner, Gisborne 2010 – $21

Perhaps not as effusively fruity as “The Doctors” but with impressive weight and richness. Flavours are, again, white pepper with spice and mineral salts together with a yeast-derived nutty, toasty brioche character. Quite a contrast to the Marlborough wine in the sort of mellow, laid-back style that is classically Gisborne. – view on bobcampbell.nz

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Dec 2010.

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