Like schnitzel, Mozart and funny leather trousers, Grüner Veltliner wine is inextricably linked to Austria where it dominates the landscape in terms of vineyard farming and wine-making. The guttural-sounding name is literally translated from German into “the green wine of Veltliner” the latter being a little town in the Tyrol region where the variety was thought to have originated.
Austria remains by far the largest producer of Grüner Veltliner internationally with over 90 per cent of the world’s plantings. Next up are Slovakia and the Czech Republic, with other vineyards found in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville remains the only producer of Grüner Veltliner in the country. The first Diemersdal Grüner Veltliner was released in 2013, made from a vineyard the farm’s owner and winemaker Thys Louw established in 2009. Six vintages on, this is proving to be one of Diemersdal’s best-selling white wines, with the 2019 vintage recognised as one of the best to date.
For decades Grüner Veltliner was seen by the rest of the world as an Austrian quaffing wine, an image created by the noisy Austrian wine bars – heurigers – where this fresh white wine is consumed by the pitcher.
It was only in 2002 when the wine got international headlines after well-known Master of Wine critic Jancis Robinson was exposed to a selection of Grüner Veltliner wines that were part of blind tasting including some of the finest Chardonnays from Burgundy.
Stunned that some Austrian Grüners out-scored acclaimed Burgundies in terms of their complexity, style and sophistication, Robinson sent out the message that this variety can now count itself among the world’s foremost white wine grapes.
Thys Louw’s decision to plant the variety was spurred by a simple reason: “It is a wine I like to drink.”
Being a Sauvignon Blanc specialist, Thys keenly assesses the spectrum of flavour profiles found in white varieties from around the world. The clarity, pureness and cool diversity of flavours offered by Grüner led him to pioneer the variety in South Africa, and today Diemersdal is the only commercial producer in the country.
So what does the Diemersdal Grüner Veltliner 2019 offer?
First and foremost, there is the high acidity resulting in overall freshness and zip of a white wine almost always made in a dry style. The vibrancy is complemented with an intriguing spectrum of flavours, most notably a slight hint of white pepper and a shred of cucumber, almost gherkin-like. (Hey, it is Austrian after-all.)
Most of all, it does not taste like any other white wine made in South Africa, having a classic Old World charm to it.
The reason the variety works so well on Diemersdal is the cool maritime climate, Hutton and clay soils as well as the farm’s commitment to farming all its vineyards without irrigation. This prevents over-cropping and dilution of the final flavour profiles, allowing for optimum varietal expression.
Since introducing the variety to South Africa, the popularity of Diemersdal Grüner Veltliner has grown such that more vineyards have had to be planted to satisfy the growing demand.
Enjoy while listening to Mozart or consuming a Wiener Schnitzel.
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