Wieninger Gruner Veltliner Vienna Hills 2020
Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria and produces a dry white wine with savory aromas, spicy flavors, and good acidity. Young Grüner Veltliner is fresh-tasting with notes of green apple, lemon, radish, and arugula. Lighter styles of Grüner Veltliner are intended for immediate drinking, while more structured examples can age for many years.
Grüner Veltliner’s bright acidity and savory character make it an ideal partner to mildly spiced Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese dishes. Fish and shellfish are accented by Grüner Veltliner’s citrus and mineral profile while its acidity cuts the richness of pork or ham. It can also work well with foods that are difficult to pair such as bitter greens and asparagus.
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Fritz Wieninger is the leading wine producer in the city of Vienna and is a champion of Gemischter Satz (Geh-mish-ter Sah-ts), a traditional field blend and a favorite wine in Vienna's heurigen (wine taverns). There are over 600 hectares of vines within Vienna making it Europe’s only capital city also demarcated as a wine appellation. The Wieninger winery is in the 21st district on the outskirts of Vienna, home to many of the city’s heurigen and home to the famed Bisamberg hill where the Romans once cultivated the vine. Wieninger is a member of the vintner's association Österreichische Traditionsweingüter and a member of Respekt, a certifying body for biodynamic viticulture in Austria. Most of Vienna’s vineyards are in the 19th and 21st of the city’s 23 districts on opposite sides of the Danube river. The Bisamberg area, located in the 21st, has sandy loess over limestone and is the source for many of Fritz’s wines including Grüner Veltliner Herrenholz and Gemischter Satz Bisamberg. Fritz’s other source is the Nußberg which lies across the Danube in the 19th district. Nußberg sits between 175 and 360 meters above downtown Vienna with sandy or gravelly clay soils over chalk. Fritz produces a range of wines from this site, including two single-vineyard Gemischter Satz: Ried Ulm and Ried Rosengartl, both prized parcels on the Nußberg hill. Fritz Wieninger grew up in the family heurige serving the wines produced by his mother who was one of the first female graduates from the enology program at Klosterneuburg. After completing his studies and spending a year in California, Fritz returned to Vienna intent on producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He was encouraged by Franz Mayer to continue growing Gemischter Satz, a traditional field blend co-planted and co-fermented together. “At first,” Fritz said, “I didn’t know what they were talking about,” but later he saw the beauty of the traditional heurigen wine.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of any curious wine drinker. A rather cool and dry wine growing region, this country produces wine that is quintessentially European in style: food-friendly with racy acidity, moderate alcohol and fresh fruit flavors.
Austria’s viticultural history is rich and vast, dating back to Celtic tribes with first written record of winemaking starting with the Romans. But the 20th century brought Austria a series of winemaking obstacles, namely the plunder of both world wars, as well as its own self-imposed quality breach. In the mid 1980s, after a handful of shameless vintners were found to have added diethylene glycol (a toxic substance) to their sweet wines to imitate the unctuous qualities imparted by botrytis, Austria’s credibility as a wine-producing country was compromised. While no one was harmed, the incident forced the country to rebound and recover stronger than ever. By the 1990s, Austria was back on the playing field with exports and today is prized globally for its quality standards and dedication to purity and excellence.
Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and herbal, peppery aromatics, is Austria's most important white variety, comprising nearly a third of Austrian plantings. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry and are full of bright citrus flavors and good acidity. Red varietal wines include the tart and peppery Zweigelt, spicy and dense Blaufränkisch and juicy Saint Laurent. These red varieties are also sometimes blended.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner calls Austria its homeland. While some easily quaffable Grüners come in a one-liter—a convenient size—many high caliber single vineyard bottlings can benefit from cellar aging. Somm Secret—About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.