Countries lay claim to grape types. This is not because they necessarily originate in those countries but, over time, they have become a symbol of that countries’ wine trade. So, while Malbec has French origins it is the signature grape of Argentina. Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand and Shiraz Australia.
Over time these might change but, in general, once a grape name has taken hold for a country other grapes find it hard to compete. Chile may claim Carmenere as it signature grape but Cabernet Sauvignon rules the roost down there!
The countries where these came from in the first instance (mainly France) have no say in the matter. A country can’t own a grape variety. I’m not at all sure why this is so as a few grapes have yet to make their mark overseas. In the meanwhile they are the lynch pins of their countries wine trade. Surely, these countries would want to hold onto their unique national treasures?
Take Tempranillo in Spain. Only a few short years ago it was unusual to see it anywhere outside of Spain. Same goes for the whites Albarino and Verdejo. Now that they have an overseas following they are being planted all over the world! Portugal has a host of varietals that do very well in extreme heat. As global warming is generating more arid landscapes besieged winemakers are beginning to trial Portugal’s treasures. Perhaps the Portuguese would do well to take ownership of their heritage.
This blog came about as I ventured into the O’Briens store at Nutgrove over the weekend. They were tasting a very brightly labeled Gruner Veltliner from Austria. (Why should I even have to say Austria as it is THE white grape in Austria.)
There are loads of excellent Austrian wines in Ireland and a fabulous collection of brilliant Gruner Veltliners. The Zull on tasting was fruit forward with a finely balanced acidity and a really refreshing finish. Both the label and my palate screamed SUMMER TIME. Always nice to be reminded of pleasant afternoons in a dull January! If you want something that can bring life to January then spend a bit more. See the Zull Weinviertel DAC Grüner Veltliner 2016 above. (It cost me 17.50) “This was extraordinary – generous, sumptuous, crisp fruit and a white pepper finish”.
Other labels around the trade include the Laurenz V wines – try ‘Charming‘ – and any number of premium labels from WineMason who specialise in the wines of Austria. I’m a great fan of Domaine Wachau ( Cassidy Wines) and the list goes on.
If you can, wangle an entry to next week’s (Trade only and By Invitation!) ‘Seven Elements of Uniqueness‘ tasting presented by Willi Klinger of the Austrian Trade Board – he’s very good. Otherwise, and if you want to learn more, contact the Austrian Embassy (detail below) and ask for a copy of the ‘Austrian Wine in Depth‘ brochure. Its one of the best produced booklets by any wine generic organisation.
Back on topic!
Gruner Veltliner, I’m afraid to report, has indeed escaped from Austria. As one Australian winemaker put it at the Australia Day Tasting in Dublin this week – ‘Yeah. Gruner? It’s everywhere now …’. For Austria this means competition on the horizon for the very essence of its wine trade from its own grape grown far from its borders. Surely Austria cannot allow a Malbec situation to develop where the grape takes over from a country (Argentina) other than its ancestral home (France).
So hopefully, the ‘Seven Elements of Uniqueness‘ next week will focus on why Austria, and Austria alone, can, and will continue to, produce unique and brilliant Gruner Veltliner wines. Because that’s exactly what its doing right now.