The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Clint Hall » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:33 pm

Paul B. wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote:It was, however, devastating to Austrian wine exports, despite the fact that the wines in question were mostly cheap plonk, and did indirectly result in a tremendous qualitative improvement in Austrian winemaking.

So quality wines benefitted from all-around efforts to improve the image of Austrian wine as part of the fallout - interesting. It can sometimes be hard to wrap one's head around the fact that out of disgrace can come rebirth - even great rebirth, at times.

Although I wasn't into wine in those days, I don't doubt the power of the media in amplifying the whole affair.


I plead guilty to being part of the amplification. I can't find the story I wrote at the time, for The Japan Times and later reprinted in Business Tokyo magazine, but the Japanese had so overreacted to the episode that it was impossible to resist the temptation to write a comic piece about it. (Hopefully I had my facts - and spelling - in better shape at the time.)
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Hoke » Tue Sep 04, 2007 2:33 pm

Paul B. wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote:It was, however, devastating to Austrian wine exports, despite the fact that the wines in question were mostly cheap plonk, and did indirectly result in a tremendous qualitative improvement in Austrian winemaking.

So quality wines benefitted from all-around efforts to improve the image of Austrian wine as part of the fallout - interesting. It can sometimes be hard to wrap one's head around the fact that out of disgrace can come rebirth - even great rebirth, at times.

Although I wasn't into wine in those days, I don't doubt the power of the media in amplifying the whole affair.


But don't place all your blame on "the power of the media in amplifying the whole affair", Paul. That's one purpose of the media: to bring things to public attention. I castigate the media because they (as usual) were totally superficial about the issue, leaving the impression that the entire country was tainted somehow. But much more blame must be placed on the superficiality and gullibility of the public, I think.

And for the record, there were actually three scandals during that general time period: Austria, Germany, and Italy. Plus the usual ongoing scandal of adulteration in Burgundy, but that's expected.

People died in Italy. Italian wines survived. People went to jail in Germany. German wines survived. Austrian wines were involved in the scandal. Austrian exports---at least to the US---were nascent, and didn't survive.

As you say, though, what seemed to be the death knell of Austrian wine turned out to be a very good thing. I credit the revival in large part to the fact that Austrian wines are basically family owned vineyards and family owned wineries, and the focus is specifically on individual vineyard plots rather than general areas, and on individual excellence rather than generic styles. And that's also one of the reasons Austrian wines can sustain themselves without going the bulk/plonk route.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Mark Lipton » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:19 pm

Hoke wrote:As you say, though, what seemed to be the death knell of Austrian wine turned out to be a very good thing. I credit the revival in large part to the fact that Austrian wines are basically family owned vineyards and family owned wineries, and the focus is specifically on individual vineyard plots rather than general areas, and on individual excellence rather than generic styles. And that's also one of the reasons Austrian wines can sustain themselves without going the bulk/plonk route.


Michael Pronay and Robs_R can comment with much more authority about this, but my impression was that the scandal resulted in the bankruptcies of several of the offending parties, thereby winnowing some of the worst Plonkmeisters from the marketplace, and also spurred the improvement of legal restrictions and oversight of winemaking practices. From my time spent there in '73, however, I can attest to the many lovely wines being made in relative obscurity then and which were far more to my tastes than the corresponding "village" wines I tried in the Rheinhessen and Rheingau.

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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Hoke » Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:14 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Hoke wrote:As you say, though, what seemed to be the death knell of Austrian wine turned out to be a very good thing. I credit the revival in large part to the fact that Austrian wines are basically family owned vineyards and family owned wineries, and the focus is specifically on individual vineyard plots rather than general areas, and on individual excellence rather than generic styles. And that's also one of the reasons Austrian wines can sustain themselves without going the bulk/plonk route.


Michael Pronay and Robs_R can comment with much more authority about this, but my impression was that the scandal resulted in the bankruptcies of several of the offending parties, thereby winnowing some of the worst Plonkmeisters from the marketplace, and also spurred the improvement of legal restrictions and oversight of winemaking practices. From my time spent there in '73, however, I can attest to the many lovely wines being made in relative obscurity then and which were far more to my tastes than the corresponding "village" wines I tried in the Rheinhessen and Rheingau.

Mark Lipton


Yah, in those days there was some godawful bad plonk being made in Germany. Disgraceful stuff---so much for the 'purity' and dedication of the revered Deutschlanders, eh? :)

Mind you, there probably still is a lot of crap...but I'm not a buyer anymore, so I don't have to don my waders and muck through all that crap anymore. I can be like everyone else: buy the good stuff and ignore the rest.

Funny: people like to criticize all the flaws and faults of domestic producers while elevating the old world to revered status. But those are mostly the people who have either never travelled in the old world, or have never sampled anything from their grocery store shelves. Sturgeon's Law applies just as fiercely to the old world as to the new: it's all too easy to find crap everywhere you go.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Mark Lipton » Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:17 pm

Hoke wrote:Yah, in those days there was some godawful bad plonk being made in Germany. Disgraceful stuff---so much for the 'purity' and dedication of the revered Deutschlanders, eh? :)


Truth be told, though, none of us was savvy enough in those days to ask for Riesling by name (nor were we looking for anything but Tafelwein so caveat emptor as always) so what we were probably getting was some horribly overcropped Müller-Thurgau or Sylvaner.

Mind you, there probably still is a lot of crap...but I'm not a buyer anymore, so I don't have to don my waders and muck through all that crap anymore. I can be like everyone else: buy the good stuff and ignore the rest.


You and me both, Hoke. That's why I had difficulty answering the "Most Expensive wine that you hated" thread. I might be disappointed from time to time, or encounter the occasional corked bottle (thankfully, either I don't get many heat-damaged wines, or I can't tell when I do) but "hate" is far too strong a word for my reaction to any wine that I've put in my mouth in the past 5-10 years. Oh, the burdens of being an Internet winegeek :cry:

Funny: people like to criticize all the flaws and faults of domestic producers while elevating the old world to revered status. But those are mostly the people who have either never travelled in the old world, or have never sampled anything from their grocery store shelves. Sturgeon's Law applies just as fiercely to the old world as to the new: it's all too easy to find crap everywhere you go.


Curiously, I see the opposite attitude far more often. How many complaints of "There's no such thing as a good (Bordeaux, Burgundy, French wine) that you can get for less than (fill in the blank)" have you seen? I've lost count myself, but Sturgeon's Law very much does apply across the board.

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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Harald Trost » Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:52 am

It is interesting that Gruener Veltliner is regarded in the US as a high-end type of wine. This is because usually only the very top producers export a sizable amount of their wine. In Austria, Gruener Veltliner has a share of about a third of all wine produced. Compare that with Rhine Rieslings 1%-2%! Gruener Veltliner is THE Austrian wine variety and really comes in all quality levels - from light summer wine to TBA - with the capability to excell in all these categories.
Historically, this is a quite new development. Before the Reblaus, GV was very rare, and it really conquered its place on top only after WWII.

Even very, very decent bottlings can be found for about Euro 5, and really high quality for less than 10, so it is NOT an expensive wine. On the contrary - I must admit - it has an excellent QPR here in Austria. It is also easier to grow than, e.g. Riesling, which partially explains why it is cheaper.

Apart from Austria Gruener Veltliner is planted in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and in tiny quantities in other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Alas, in these countries the technical standard of wine-making is still well below Austrian standards. But if Gruener Veltliner ever enters the mass market (and I dearly hope that will never happen) these countries could probably - at least in the long range - support growing demand.

In the mean time I am very happy that the small scale structure of the Austrian wine producers prevents large-scale export and sip my Gruener Veltliner together with an occasional Wiener Schnitzel (Asian food is the one food variety I prefer to accompany with beer) which I find to be a perfect match.

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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Paul B. » Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:21 am

Harald, it is great to see you here and welcome. Thanks as well for the excellent overview of GV and its position throughout Central Europe.

Having grown up in an ethnic Polish home, schnitzel was certainly one of the things on our menu and although my family was not into wine as a regular part of meals, I continue to make schnitzel nowadays and I agree that Grüner is a fantastic match - much better than any of the standard white French varietals in my opinion. It's that fine peppery spice that somehow matches perfectly with a nice crispy schnitzel and the trimmings.

Here in Ontario, we recently had a feature on Austrian wines and GV is usually around to a varying extent. Recently they even got a St. Laurent at Vintages (Ontario's fine wine government monopoly) which I have to try.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Paul B. » Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:41 am

An interesting tidbit:

A post on Zöld Veltelini . . . which of course is what our beloved GV is called in Hungarian.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Cliff Rosenberg » Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:31 pm

Although there is not a whole lot left, I don't think, Chambers still has some of a big stash of older GruVe.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Bill Hooper » Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:39 pm

Paul B. wrote:An interesting tidbit:

A post on Zöld Veltelini . . . which of course is what our beloved GV is called in Hungarian.


Mein Gott! Wine Lovers Beware!!! Hilltop 'Craftsman' is the F*cking Yellow Tail of Hungary! I had the misfortune of tasting through the entire 'Range' (if you will) recently. It was only a matter of time before the onslaught of cheap Hungarian supermarket crap hit US retailers. Shame on the Denver Post for writing and endorsing this plonk! There are many quality-driven Hungarian producers starting to hit the US. My fear is that people will try a bottle of this flashy-packaged scheiße and never pick up another bottle of Hungarian Bor.


I say this only out of love...
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Paul B. » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:27 pm

Bill - thanks for that poignant warning. I have much distaste (pun intended) for producers of plonk, believing as you do that plonk wines ruin a country's or region's reputation - sometimes irreparably, among certain people.

I have long preached that, economics and opportunism be damned, the former East Bloc wine producing countries should place their eggs in the basket of quality estate wines based mainly on their indigenous varieties. International-variety wines are of course fine too, so long as they are competently made and show it.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Rahsaan » Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:23 pm

Any input on which recent vintages (i.e. 98 onward) are best for drinking now? And which are likely to be shutdown?

Does a similar logic apply from German riesling?
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Mark Lipton » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:16 am

Rahsaan wrote:Any input on which recent vintages (i.e. 98 onward) are best for drinking now? And which are likely to be shutdown?

Does a similar logic apply from German riesling?


Rahsaan,
Are you talking about GV in general here? If so, there is no one answer as it depends on ripeness level and producer. AFAIK, GV doesn't ever really shut down per se, but many of the higher Prädikat GVs do benefit from aging. From recent notes, the '99 Nigl Privat and several '01 Smaragds are drinking well now, whereas the '04 and '05 Federspiels are also going down well.

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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Rahsaan » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:19 am

Mark Lipton wrote:Are you talking about GV in general here? If so, there is no one answer as it depends on ripeness level and producer.


I should have figured as much.. :D

But, thanks, and am glad to hear that the shutdown phase is not as severe as for other wines. I'm planning to order a bunch of wines from Bill Mayer and wanted to know if there were vintages I should outright avoid for drinking now.
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Re: The dynamics behind Grüner Veltliner's rising fame?

Postby Michael Pronay » Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:38 am

Rahsaan wrote:I'm planning to order a bunch of wines from Bill Mayer and wanted to know if there were vintages I should outright avoid for drinking now.

The only vintage to avoid for Austrian whites is 1996. In all others there are many, many very fine wines.
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