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Grüner Veltliner: good Schmid

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana
Malley, Chris Coronel, Jason Wentworth

Though Austria produces some of the world’s finest dry Rieslings, its greatest gift to wine lovers could be the distinctive wine made from its most widely planted grape variety, Grüner Veltliner. Occupying about 36 % of Austria’s vineyard area, Grüner Veltliner produces many styles of wine, from light and refreshing to full bodied and complex. The best examples generally come from the Wachau, west of Vienna, and its neighboring regions Kremstal and Kamptal.

Good Grüner Veltliner is a most intriguing wine. Its aroma is pleasantly herbaceous, and frequently there is an unmistakable hint of white pepper and a subtle suggestion of peach. In the mouth, these wines can have a surprisingly lush, elegant mouth feel, while maintaining a crisp, refreshing quality. Nearly all Grüner Veltliner is enjoyable in it youth, yet the finest examples can take on the weight and complexity of fine white Burgundy with age in the bottle.

The staff at Northside Wines and Spirits recently blind tasted 17 examples of Austrian Grüner Veltliner priced $24.99 or less. The wines hailed from seven different reigions; interesingly five of the top six wines were produced in Wachau or Kremstal. The wines were generally clean and well made, and fun to taste.

The top wine of the tasting was the Josef Schmid 2007 Grüner Veltliner Kremser Weingärten, priced $21 per bottle. This gorgeous wine has the characteristic herby, peppery character of Grüner Veltliner complemented by hints of apple, peach, and even melon. The wine pulls off the Grüner Veltliner trick of allying a full mouth feel to a crisp clean finish. The producer of this fine wine, Weingut Josef Schmid, is a small, family owned estate in Kremstal. They grow many grape varieties, but Grüner Veltliner is a specialty. Their total production is only 5,000 cases per year, which doesn’t make for a lot of wine to go around!

Grüner Veltliner is a very flexible, food friendly wine. Try this sterling example from Josef Schmid with roast pork or veal, grilled chicken, scallops, sushi, or dishes featuring greens. It would also make an excellent choice to accompany Indian and Thai dishes containing tart ingredients such as tamarind or dried mango.

If you would like the full tasting list along with the rankings, please email us your name, phone number, city, and zip code to

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