Tag Archives: Gruner Veltliner

Tasting Note: Water Fire Gruner Veltliner

I visited Water Fire – about midway between Traverse City and Petoskey – about 2 weeks ago.  It’s a new vineyard, specializing in whites, and I was especially interested in this wine.  Gruner Veltliner is the definitive Austrian white grape; it makes a crisp, bracing white wine, but it’s not Pinot Grigio and it’s not dry Riesling.  There are a couple of retailers in the Ann Arbor area that carry Water Fire’s wines, so I’ll be hunting some of this down soon on a weekend grocery run.

As far as I can tell, they should qualify for the new “Tip of the Mitt” AVA, but this wine predates the 2016 designation of that appellation.  In my opinion, the wineries of northern Michigan should be planting a lot more Austrian grapes, as the climate, geography, and soil are a pretty good match to the wine regions of Austria – especially the lake influence.

Water Fire Gruner Veltliner (2012) Michigan – $22

Color: medium golden-yellow.

Aroma: lemon curd, minerality, hint of floral notes.

Taste: brisk, racing acidity up front, then softer in the mid-palate. Citrus notes dominate throughout, with minerality underneath, and some peppery, herbal notes on the finish.

Very nice – I had this at dinner with a light meal of roasted golden beets and goat cheese, and it was a an excellent pairing.  Gruner Veltliner from Austria doesn’t come any less expensive than this does, and it’s true to the grape.  Recommended!


Tasting Note: Shady Lane Gruner Veltliner

I’m very happy to see Austrian grapes like Gruner Veltliner planted in the US – they’re a nice alternative to the same-old same-old.  I purchased this bottle on one of my summer trips up north, and enjoyed it with Chinese 5-spice chicken, vermicelli, mushrooms, and collard greens.

Shady Lane Gruner Veltliner (2013) Leelanau Peninsula, MI – $20

Color: pale yellow – is there a hint of green in there?

Aroma: a creamy nose with Golden Delicious apple and citrus.

Taste: Crisp up front with citrus notes dominating, then flinty and apple-pear tastes. Lively on the tongue. The finish has a hint of lanolin. Tart but not acrid.

Wonderful with the 5-spice chicken – really brings out the ginger and the heat of the Sichuan pepper.


Grape Varieties in Michigan

After hitting approximately 30 wineries in Michigan – both in the south-central part of the state, and up north in Traverse City, I have a few observations on varieties.

I’m glad to see some plantings of Austrian grapes – Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch (aka Lemburger).  When you consider the embayments and lakes around Traverse City, these seem like obvious choices, given their similarity in latitude, weather, and mesoclimate. I hope to see a lot more plantings of these grapes in this part of the US in the future. They provide something different from the same-old Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, etc. There’s also a nice heritage connection – many of the Europeans who settled the Great Lakes area came from the same stomping grounds as those grapes: Mitteleuropa aka Central Europe aka the old Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire. I grew up surrounded by Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, and Poles, and their cuisine is perfectly suited for these grapes.

There’s much more Pinot Noir in the fields than I was expecting, even given its popularity in the last 10-15 years, and its suitability for a harsher continental climate.  I don’t see a particular style emerging just yet; many of the vintages are somewhere in the middle between the light, delicate, fruit & cream style, and the meaty, mushroomy, darker and spicier style of Pinot.

I continue to see Cabernet Franc planted in good quantities; most, if not all, of the Bordeaux-style red blends are heavy on the Cab Franc. As with the Austrian grapes, I think this is a particularly well-suited variety for this part of the US – and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of my favorite grapes.

It’s also pleasing to see more than just Riesling and Chardonnay in whites: there are plentiful choices in Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Chenin Blanc.


Drinking Tonight: Floriani Gruner Veltliner

Purchased this the other day at my local Trader Joe’s for $8, vintage 2011.  I didn’t notice until I got home that it’s actually from Hungary, not Austria! I’m having a glass while I make mushroom risotto.

Color: very pale straw yellow with a hint of green

Aroma: quite herbal – lemon verbena and basil, followed by straight citrus

Taste: perfectly dry, with an initial acidic hit followed by minerality and a clean finish.  I overchilled it and will give it a few minutes to warm up.

OK, now I’m picking up more citrus on the nose, and the feel is creamier.  The citrus taste notes last through the mid-palate into the finish.

For the money, this is an excellent deal.  I’ll stock up on this for the summer – I can see this with my grilled Caesar salad, shellfish, or goat cheese pizza.