Tag Archives: Gruner Veltliner

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.