Illustration by Joao Neves
Pops of white peppercorn, a squirt of a juicy peach and a racy line of minerality—these are the characteristics that bring fans of Austrian Grüner Veltliner to the table. A natural crossing of Traminer and an unknown grape, it’s considered indigenous to Austria and is the country’s most widely planted grape today. There, the best examples are grown at higher altitude in rocky soils on steep slopes, with extreme temperature shifts to retain acidity yet ripen the fruit.
“Grüner is definitely much more terroir-sensitive than Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling,” says Bertold Salomon, owner of Salomon Undhof in Austria. Simply put, it’s not a grape that can be grown just anywhere. However, it’s thriving in these three regions.