Gruner veltliner is the wine for a verdant spring

Credit: Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Krista Slater for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

It’s March, spring arrives soon, and we’re already thinking about what we’ll be drinking this season.

We prefer to choose wines that pair best with our meals, and our food choices often lighten as the weather warms. So, come springtime, crisp white wines end up in more frequent rotation than big reds.

For those who feel they’re in a rut with their usual go-to sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, gruner veltliner is a refreshing alternative.

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The most widely planted grape in Austria, gruner veltliner often is citrus-forward, with herbal notes and a peppery finish. But, it also tends toward aromas and flavors of white peach, melon, or even tropical tones in the riper styles. And, herbal fragrances can expand into floral aromas.

Incredibly versatile with food, gruner veltliner is a good pairing with bitter green salads, spring treats of peas and asparagus, delicate sushi and fried chicken (not everything has to be good for you in spring).

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Gruner veltliner has ridden the waves of trendy popularity to find a regular home on restaurant wine lists and specialty retail shelves. Just seek out the red and white flag on the bottle tops. While “green” already was in the name, environmentally friendly viticulture and organic practices are on the rise in Austria, and our current choices reflect some of the best, in terms of sustainability. Here are three that we are keeping stocked for spring:

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Von Donabaum gruner veltliner 2020. We love a good value, and this is one of the best out there in the category of white wines under $20. Volker Donabaum, winemaker and importer of Austrian wines, was raised among the vines on his family estate in the Wachau region of Austria. Sourced from organic vineyards in the Burgenland region, this bone-dry gruner veltliner is loaded with the tastes of lime zest, wet stone and dried apricot, and has a pleasant green herbal finish.

Schodl Loss and Lehm gruner veltliner 2021. This wine represents our sweet spot: classic regional representations, made in the most “natural,” sustainable way. This is a textbook example of crisp, elegant gruner veltliner, evocative of nectarine, green peppercorn and white grapefruit
. Schodl is helmed by three siblings, Mathias, Viktoria and Leonhard. Together, the young siblings have converted their family winery to organic farming practices. This wine is sourced from the estate vineyards on the slopes and plateaus around the town of Loidesthal, where the grape achieves an ideal balance between acidity and ripeness.

Ott Fass 4 gruner veltliner 2021. The wines of Bernhard Ott are a worthwhile splurge. Ott is the fourth generation of his family to run their estate in the Wagram region, and he is renowned for his commitment to biodynamic farming practices. The most opulent in style of this roundup, Fass 4 is fermented and aged in large Stockinger oak barrels, adding a rounder texture to the savory, citrusy wine. Ott’s wines are an incredible study in the complexity of gruner veltliner.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat, Slater’s Steakhouse and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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