Grüner Veltliner: Our Grooviest Wine
Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s most widely planted grape variety and now, it’s gaining popularity in the cooler climate wine regions of Australia, including our own Alpine Valleys. Winemakers can make this versatile variety in a number of styles, from crisp and dry to more full-bodied and rich. You can drink them young and fresh or cellar them as you would some age-worthy Rieslings. Here, we share the Billy Button take on this Austrian – now Australian – grape varietal.
What is Grüner Veltliner?
Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape variety with origins in Austria. In fact, it’s the country’s most widely planted grape, accounting for roughly one-third of plantings there. The grape is a cross between Savagnin and a lesser-known, obscure Austrian grapevine from the eastern part of the country. The grape’s resulting wines are typically dry and particularly food-friendly. With a bit of tender loving care from grapegrowers, it can produce full-bodied wines with concentrated fruit that are naturally high in acidity. Its best Austrian examples come from the regions of Wachau, Kamptal, Kremstal, Weinviertel, and Wagram. In addition to Austria, the grape is grown in the Czech Republic, where it is the second most widely grown white grape; Hungary; Slovakia; Italy’s Alto Adige region; the United States; Canada; New Zealand; and right here in our own Australian backyard, including small parcels in Victoria’s Alpine Valleys.
Grüner Veltliner in Australia
Grüner Veltliner’s history in Australia is quite young. Lark Hill in the Canberra District produced the first Australian Grüner Veltliner in 2009. These days, Adelaide Hills is an exciting hub for Grüner Veltliner in Australia – with more than 30 producers! In fact, Larry Jacobs, co-owner of Hahndorf Hill in the Adelaide Hills, is known as the ‘Godfather of Gru’; the winery has imported six clones from Austria and makes several varietal wines of Grüner Veltliner most years. Adelaide Hills’ Artwine also consistently makes a delicious Grüner Veltliner. Other regions showing promise for Australian Grüner Veltliner include Tumbarumba, Eden Valley and parts of Tasmania.
What Does Grüner Veltliner Taste Like?
Good Grüner Veltliner is crisp and full of texture. As a youthful wine, Grüner Veltliner often boasts flavours of stone fruit or citrus, including lemon, lime, yellow grapefruit, pear and apple. You’ll also find hints of white pepper, celery, cucumber skin, rocket, green herbs, white flowers and some spice. As it ages – and it can indeed be an age-worthy wine – it can develop honeyed, buttered toast or candied citrus notes. When the grapes cooperate, Grüner Veltliner can be a lovely textural, well-balanced wine with crisp and refreshing acidity. Some might refer to Grüner Veltliner as ‘Riesling on steroids’, and although the two wines have similar aromatics and flavour profiles, the aspect that sets Grüner apart from Riesling is its creamy texture on the palate.
Grüner Veltliner at Billy Button
With Grüner Veltliner styles ranging from elegant and crisp to more full-bodied, Billy Button’s varietal style falls somewhere in between. Our wine puts a lot of focus on savoury tones, texture and complexity. We source the fruit for our Billy Button ‘The Groovy’ Grüner Veltliner from Antonello vineyards in Buffalo Creek, on the slopes of Mount Buffalo. Only one of two Grüner Veltliner growers in the Alpine Valleys, they are truly professional grapegrowers with an immaculate vineyard that delivers incredible fruit year after year. In 2021, we were lucky enough to get our hands on a second small parcel of recently planted Grüner Veltliner from Greenacres Vineyard in Merriang South. We are hoping this will turn into a trend of planting more of this delicious grape variety in the Alpine Valleys in the future! We currently have three vintages of ‘The Groovy’ on offer. Our 2018 vintage in our museum collection is a lovely aged example of the variety. It features candied citrus peel on warm buttered toast. Honey and lemon curd flavours combine with spice elements and preserved lemon acidity. This wine scored 93 points in the 2020 Halliday Wine Companion. Our aromatic 2019 ‘The Groovy’ was among the highlights of that year. Our latest vintage, the 2022 Billy Button ‘The Groovy’ Grüner Veltliner features aromas of orange blossom and honeysuckle immersed in pink grapefruit rind that precede a palate that is plush and full. The same pithy citrus characters are complimented by a savoury element, that alludes kitchen herbs and tarragon. Generous weight, balanced acidity and wonderful length.