On more than one occasion, when introducing a Grüner Veltliner, I have been met with the response ‘come again’ or ‘Grüner what?’. I’m yet to have heard ‘gesundheit’, but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time, and although consistently complicated for folk to get their ears round, Grüner Veltliner is not a grape that has the same effect on their taste buds.
The Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Grüner Veltliner is one of those wines that makes an instant impression and got the ‘OMG’ reaction from me at first taste i.e. I taste a wine and find it significantly more exciting than I am anticipating it to be, causing me to spit (ever the professional) and exclaim exactly that, ‘OMG’. Each time I’ve popped it in to a tasting, it’s flown out the warehouse in subsequent customer orders and it’s a no brainer as to why. This is one fabulous wine. Not only does it look great, miles away from the boringly traditional Germanic/ Alpine labels often synonymous with wines from this part of the world, most importantly, it tastes delicious. It’s white, just to clarify, has a notable body to it but a really spritely acidity and bags of flavour, bringing the taste buds alive. There’s a level of florality to it, with lots of apple and a dash of typically-GV white pepper too.
Eschenhof Holzer is the wine maker, and at just 28 years old and five vintages in, when I consider what I was up to when I was 23, I am a little in awe of him, although he does have the benefit of having the bloodline of 3 generations of wine makers before him. Holzer tends to his 13 hectares of vines in the region of Wagram, alongside the River Danube between Vienna and the very steep, terraced and prestigious wine region of Wachau, where the finest Austrian wines hail from and Riesling reigns. Holzer’s wines are the perfect excellent example of how Wagram and the neighbouring areas of Kamptal, Traisental and Kremstal (Wachau’s no. 2) can produce some excellent quality and great value wines.
So if you’ve ever pooh-poohed the wines of Austria (and it doesn’t just stop at the Grüner, there are plenty of brilliant Rieslings as well as red wines) or fancy tasting something a little different to the usual Sauvignon Blanc, it’s time to change that perception and taste what you’ve been missing.