For the first time ever, each post on the homepage of this blog features a wine from a different country. While in general, I aim for roughly 50% Australian wines and 50% rest of world, between my recent Canadian trip and a visit to my cellar, I’ve managed to be slightly more worldly of late. I know it won’t last, but rounding out the group, I give you a wine from Austria, the Laurenz V. Friendly Grüner Veltliner 2007.
This is actually the fourth wine of Austria I’ve covered, but strangely for a country I so strongly associate with white wines, the first three were red or rosé. As it turns out, while white grape production is roughly double that of red, that is down from triple in 1999. Plantings of white grapes have been declining across the board and plantings of reds have increased for all major varieties except Blauer Portugieser.
While I’ve covered Grüner Veltliner before, it was an Australian, and for the time being I think the best are still from Austria. Despite a drop in plantings over the last decade, it remains the most widely planted grape in Austria, with more area under vines than the next three varieties combined. It’s also arguably the most iconic Austrian grape – if someone knows a single Austrian grape, this is the one.
Laurenz V. (that’s Roman numeral five) was formed in 2005 by Laurenz Maria Moser V of the Lenz Moser family with a long history in wine, dating back to 1124. He partnered with an accountant, Franz Schweiger, and Dieter Hübler who runs marketing and distribution. The three of them embraced Grüner Veltliner as their sole grape, staking their entire company on it, and claim to be the only producer working exclusively with it. Focused on the export market, the company’s goal is to promote the grape variety on the world stage as a previously overlooked fine wine grape. They source their grapes from the Kamptal, Kremstal and Weinviertel subregions within the Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) region.
The wines themselves, each with a very approachable name such as Charming, Friendly, and Sunny, are differentiated on a number of fronts. While all are fermented in stainless steel, some are from specific subregions and others are blends. Most are dry with only a few grams of residual sugar, though there is one off-dry called Forbidden. There is even a low (10%) alcohol wine called Grüner Forever. This wine, Friendly, is largely from the Kamptal region with some blending from Kremstal and is meant to be fresh and fruit driven.
Despite translating to Lower Austria, Niederösterreich is in the north east of the country. The lower part of the name refers to it being downriver on the Danube from Oberösterreich, or Upper Austria. The area is made up of eight subregions, each with its own character, so I’ll focus on Kremstal and Kamptal with this wine. Kremstal is home to vineyards on clay and limestone near the town of Krems, which shift to loess, or half rock, half soil, going north through the Krems Valley. Parts of the region are steep enough to require terracing. The loess is also a feature of Kamptal to the north and east, and both regions enjoy an abundance of south facing slopes to maximize sunshine. The area as a whole is a continental climate, and enjoys hot summers but cold winters, allowing full ripeness but with cool enough nights for acidity retention.
In the glass, this wine is clear and bright, with a pale lemon green colour and a thin film inside the glass when swirled. On the nose it’s clean and developing with medium plus intensity and notes of mineral, citrus, cream, and a bit of custard. On the palate it’s dry, with medium plus acidity, medium plus body, medium plus intensity, medium alcohol, and a medium plus length. There are notes of minerals (almost briny), Nashi pear, some citrus, sandalwood and white pepper.
This is a very good wine – rich and complex, with strong typicity and a very crisp flavour even as a five year old white. The minerality, a character I always associate with Grüner Veltliner, is very evident, and the acidity keeps it sharp.