Grüner Veltliner, or ‘Groovy Grüner’ as they are calling it down in New Zealand, is the latest big thing to come out of New Zealand and it’s causing quite a stir.
So what makes Grüner… well, groovy? I spoke to Saint Clair winemaker Matt Thomson who was in London this week for a Majestic tasting in Mayfair and a Grüner Veltliner masterclass at the New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting.
Is this more of an experimentation or long term project for Grüner in NZ and for St Clair?
“This is definitely a long-term project for Saint Clair. Besides the fact that you don’t plant a vineyard for the short-term, we believe the variety has a big future in Marlborough and will become an important feature of the region’s portfolio.”
What makes it exciting for you and what should people in the UK expect?
“It is exciting for us because there is very little known about how it will perform and how it should be made. That makes it a wonderful challenge with a clean sheet to work with. I think that it is likely to produce very aromatic versions that still show the classic traits of the variety in Austria; that is white pepper and citrus zest. I think the weight of the wines will improve with vine age and so we aren’t going to realise its full potential for a while yet, but the early work we have done so far shows real promise.”
Your dreamy food and wine matches?
“I suspect that you would want to avoid overtly spicy dishes as the heat from the white pepper may be accentuated. I think anything with orange zest would be wonderful. We have an idea that a seafood pasta with citrus tones would be perfect; clam and lemon linguine perhaps…..”
At the moment there are only 30 hectares of Grüner planted across the whole of New Zealand and Saint Clair has just over half of those. This small allocation still gives the opportunity for Matt and his team at Saint Clair to test the Grüner and get a feel for it’s popularity before deciding to plant more vines and experiment with methods of production.
I tasted the The Saint Clair Pioneer Block 5 Grüner Veltliner at the trade fair this week amongst other Gruners from New Zealand; it is an exciting and very interesting wine, and is one to watch out for. Oh, and definitely groovy.