Weissenkirchen Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2020 Wachau, Austria

Ah! German and Austrian wine labels! So complicated and difficult to translate that all the extra detail leaves the average wine buyer, ironically, knowing nothing.

Gruner – at some point I’ll manage an umlaut on WordPress – is known for 3 things: tropical fruits, high acidity, white pepper and (sometimes) fennel/dill aromas. It can be mistaken for NZ Sauvignon Blanc (makes sense given the climate) and is generally fuller/rounder than the Riesling grown in the vineyard down the road. Some sommeliers love it, it’s hip or it’s not – but I never buy the stuff.

First, some fun (to me) translation/etymology.

Weissenkirchen = white church
Smaragd = a quality designation that oddly refers to an emerald-colored lizard (think how similar ‘smaragd’ is to esmerelda, Spanish for emerald) that basks on the warmest, upper terraces. Smaragd wines are from superior sites, have higher alcohol levels etc.
Wachau = a region in Austria, and not a very big one, that follows the Danube River. It looks very Mosel-ish in terms of terraced vineyards hugging curves in the river, though isn’t as dramatic. And from my little I’ve read, Riesling tends to get the premier hillside sites, whereas Gruner has to do with loess [that was a darn good pun].

The Weissenkirchen with Danube beyond.

So my first surprise was how golden colored this wine was. It looked like an aged Riesling! Straight from the wine fridge the aromas were muted, and when I tasted it, I worried that it had prematurely oxidized (despite being under screwcap). But as the wine warmed and opened up, the pineapple came on strong (the white pepper and fennel never showed up). The back label described the wine as “discretely spicy.” As in, so discrete, I didn’t notice it.

This wine felt quite heavy in the mouth, especially for a white wine. And no surprise, it’s 13% ABV, at the high end for whites.

An enjoyable wine, to be sure. Would I buy it again? No. I think I need to get involved in some feather play (Federspiel) first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s