If you follow Eric Asimov’s “Wine School” column in the Times, you probably have already read the June 30th lesson about Grüner Veltliner, the perennial summer favorite from Austria. We can’t get enough Grüner—available in myriad price points and styles, there are serious, intellectual offerings perfect for a special occasion (check out Bründlmayer’s absurdly gorgeous 2012 Alte Reben), but there’s also cheap, cheerful picnic-in-the-park wines like the ubiquitous green liters of H&M Hofer. The grape's food-friendly, refreshing, and perfect year-round. What’s not to love?
To close out his column, Asimov suggests a handful of great wines from producers we love, all current releases from 2014 or 2015. In passing, however, he also mentions that some of his friends and colleagues in the wine world “speak glowingly of grüner’s potential, its ability to age and to gain complexity, of the pleasure it offers.” And how right they are! I enjoy sipping a young, snappy Grüner Veltliner as much as the next guy, but it’s truly a white with aging potential that rivals the best Rieslings.
One producer that offers exceptional “mature” examples is Weingut Wimmer-Czerny, a perpetual favorite among natural wine aficionados and Appellation staff members. I wrote about Wimmer-Czerny’s fun and unusual Roter Veltliner last year, going into some detail about Hans Czerny’s biodynamic farming—where he promotes diversity by maintaining beneficial insects and animals alongside his vines—and minimal cellar practices.
Czerny’s 2008 Grüner Veltliner ‘Weelfel, Alte Reben’ comes from a single vineyard in Goesing in the Wagram. Facing south atop the slopes of the Hengstberg, the vineyard is terraced and planted with alternating rows of flowering bushes and space for animals to roam. Grapes were picked and pressed in whole clusters, fermented with only native yeasts in steel tanks, and racked twice without filtering. Thanks to its sandstone, gneiss, and crushed seashell soil, this is an exceptionally mineral-driven wine with aromas of green apple, pears, and honey. Subtle hints of white pepper and woody herbs add complexity, along with a long length and more body than your fresher examples of the grape. A flexible partner for fish, scallops, or even lobster, it also shines with rich cheeses. And, if Hans' wine doesn't fully quench your thirst, I recommend the 2010 Schwarzböck Weinvertel 'Kirchberg' to try as well!