Austria’s signature white grape variety has traveled a winding road. After the 15 minutes of fame it enjoyed a number of years ago, grüner veltliner settled back into niche status. I’ve often found the wines to taste excessively green, vegetal and charmless, unless I happened to be drinking one of the riper, more concentrated—and expensive!—examples from the country’s handful of superstar producers. But medium-priced grüner has risen in quality, and, if chosen carefully, it can provide fresh, balanced, lovely drinking, especially with lighter fare. The following three are winners.
Laurenz V. Charming Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, 2013
This is a slightly smoky, herb-scented and earthy wine that shows off the grape’s natural fit with vegetarian fare. There is a hint of white pepper, some citrus and apple notes, and a lingering spice in the finish. It’s light to medium bodied and very smooth.
$30, Top Shelf Liquors, Boston
Loimer Langenlois Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal, 2014
This grüner is subtle, clean and delicate, with tart lemon-lime undertones and a crisp but mild flavor profile. A wine of finesse rather than intensity or spice, it would definitely appeal to pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc lovers who want to try a new flavor experience.
$24, Winestone, Chestnut Hill
Biohof Pratsch Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertel, 2013
From a district bordering Vienna, this wine has an aroma of somewhat pungent pipe tobacco and earthy root vegetables. It’s clean and fresh, with some mineral salinity, and all kinds of interesting grace notes: cilantro, grapefruit rind and peach. This soft, mellow wine is great with a seafood salad.
$14, Martignetti Liquors, Boston