Shorter growing seasons may not be favorable in other parts of the world, but that limitation has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Finger Lakes. It has determined our legacy. Certain grapes prefer a cooler climate, resulting in wines of higher acidity that are now being celebrated for their prowess at the dinner table. This post’s focus is on another of our region’s up-and-coming varietals, Grüner Veltliner.
Three cheers for the new kid on the block. Well, new to the Finger Lakes that is. This dazzling white wine has been made in Austria for centuries, and has secured its spot as the most planted grape in that country. Its vineyard pal is Riesling, and the two love the cool climate and rich minerality of the riverbanks along the Danube.
So it is no surprise that Grüner Veltliner has found a wonderful new home in the lake region of New York State. Pronounced GROO-ner vehlt-LEEN-her, it sounds more like a big lumberjack walking out of the woods than a pretty little grape. To make it easier, it has become known as just Grüner. Or easier yet, GrüVe (just like Groovy).
With a mere 18 acres planted at this point, only a handful of pioneering winegrowers have taken on GrüVe in the Finger Lakes. Yet the wines have been overwhelmingly successful, with critics comparing the flavors to those of its homeland relatives. Think peach, vanilla and white pepper all rolled up in a dry, mouthwatering wine that is almost electrifying on the taste buds. In wine speak, you may hear it described as “bracing,” which expresses the tongue tingling sensation you feel as it hits your palate.
In Austria, this wine pairs beautifully with the signature pumpkin seed oils made in Styria. In the Finger Lakes, it has the same chemistry with foods that have been drizzled with the superb squash seed oils being produced here. Try it on chilled soups, green salads, roasted vegetables and broiled fish for a great flavor match. –Holly Howell
The above is excerpted from a larger piece in our 2013 Wine issue.
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