At the Go Green Expo in Wellington I was not expecting to encounter one of the country’s most well known brands, served by the founder and winemaker himself. Konrad Hengstler of the famed Konrad Wines (pictured) was serving his range of sauvignon blanc, riesling, grüner veltliner, gewürztraminer and pinot noir.
Originally from Germany, the family first settled in Melbourne, Australia, but when visiting New Zealand, Konrad discovered Marlborough sauvignon blanc and was drawn to the region to make outstanding wine. The family planted their first vines in 1996 in the Wairau and Waihopai Valleys of Marlborough.
While most famous for his iconic Marlborough sauvignon blanc, and this wine was stunningly good – one of the best and most elegant from the region – on this day at the Go Green Expo, it was the grüner veltliner which stood out for me – grüner bring German for ‘greener’. Being the green expo, I should mention that all the wine grapes have fully certified organic, BioGro status and as such are grown without the use of synthetic fungicides, insecticides or herbicides.
What is grüner veltliner?
Grüner veltliner is the most commonly grown wine grape in Austria. In the Weinviertel region in the northeast, along the border with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, over half of the country’s grüner is grown, and it is the only permitted grape variety. This region is known for high yields and for simple wines with fresh acidity and crisp citrus fruit flavours. The more selective producers can make wines with the typical pepper and mineral notes, and more full-bodied, dry grüners. Along the Danube the warmer area produces more full bodied wines with peach notes. Along the border with Hungary some sweeter auslese and botrytised trockenbeerenauslese styles of grüner can be found. The oldest grüner vines in the are more than 150 years old.
Grüner veltliner is also widely grown in Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, and in various locations across the US. It is a newcomer to Australasia, with just a handful of producers, the notable Australian producer being Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills. There are a few in New Zealand, the first commercial producer being Coopers Creek in 2008.
Konrad’s greener grüner
The current release of the grüner veltliner was a 2011. The wine is a pretty light golden colour with green hues (pictured). The nose gives generous fleshy fruits, like white flesh nectarines and honeydew melon. The wine is mouth-filling and soft with a low acid content,yet zingy with a little spice, and very long. This elegant wine is complex and pleasing and very flavoursome, dry and crisp on the finish.
The grapes were hand harvested from vineyards in the Waihopai Valley. They were whole bunch pressed and wild yeast fermented in old French barrels and kept on lees for three months. All of this care explains the complexity of this elegant and surprising wine. An excellent example of this variety for New Zealand to be proud of.
Alcohol 13.5%; residual sugar 9 g/l.
Cellaring potential 3-5 years.