Grüner Veltliner Evolution

I wonder if anyone has fairly long experience of drinking Austrian GV. My first recollections of trying any were in Prague perhaps 15 or 20 years ago and I can’t remember any of the names. But I do remember quite definitely finding it very dry and tight and austere. I wasn’t taken by it all.

Recently I’ve tried a few from TWS and found them light, refreshing, fruity, and with a hint of sweetness. Now I’m trying to work out whether

  1. My taste has changed dramatically over this time (which I doubt).
  2. Austrian GV has changed dramatically over the years.
  3. Restaurants in Prague just served much more austere versions of GV.

Anybody able to shed any light?


Haven’t the tasting experience but have read up a little… it appears the Austrians in particular have become better and better at making the stuff!

Tastes differ, but I haven’t noticed any considerable (or anymore than anywhere else) changes. It’s a well-worn cliche, but we all experience wine differently, and I like high acid wines. I hate to offer a fairly obvious conclusion, but perhaps quality in Prague 20 years ago wasn’t what it could have been, or perhaps they were simply buying a certain (cheaper) style? Unfortunately, it isn’t a homogeneous product :smiley:

Yes, I think this is the main reason! My taste might have changed a bit, but not that much. Just hoping for someone with long experience of drinking GV to give an opinion.

We had two to taste in our WSET diploma course last year. One oaked, one not. Oaked was about £40 and unoaked about £15. Both were very ordinary and disappointing. I will search out the names from my notes.

I have been drinking GVs for over twenty years during my many visits to Austria for work. There are many hundreds of them, and very much hit and miss. Many are a waste of time and money, but there are also wonderful examples. Go for the smaragd version of one of the top producers (such as Knoll, Pichler, Domane Wachau and a range of others), and you can hardly go wrong. Expect to pay from £25 upwards though. I don’t think there has been a dramatic change in the last twenty years, the change years were a bit earlier, during 1985 to 1995 there was a big improvement in quality.


The two we had in our WSET class were

  1. Pfaffl Weinviertel Haidviertel G.V. 2017. DAC. £14.99

  2. Pichler G.V. Smargd Loibner Steinertal 2018. Qualitatswein £44.19

Just to add that there’s a bit of a bifurcation in terminology, so that Smaragd as a quality designation is very Wachau-centric (as is your excellent list of producers). The relatively new Erste Lage vineyards seem to be the direction for the best wines from Kamptal, Kremstal, etc. I often think basic DAC (docg equivalent) wines from good producers are excellent value (though probably not so much if you can’t by direct), though obviously not in the same class as the good Smaragd/Erste Lage wines.


You can pick up the very entry level Pfaffl GV for about £7 in Lidl a lot of the time, which I find far nicer than that cuvee. Pfaffl’s reds (Native Austrian/Pinot Noir blends) at that price point are excellent though.


Would second Emmerich Knoll - have had several bottles of their wines (GV and Rieseling) and do rate them (BBR normally stock them)

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Great labels too.


So does L&W, but they sell out very fast.

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Interested to see you describe the Pichler (I assume FX) as oaked; does that mean there was noticeable oak flavour? I thought they used very large old oak, but that isn’t generally what I’d describe as oaking.

A particular change in the ingredients I think and a lot of effort! But interesting that you don’t think there’s been much change since then. Maybe I was just unlucky in the ones I tried.

Another voter for Pfaffl’s entry level GV! His Zweigelts and St Laurents are lovely too.

This may well be a stupid question - but were the ones you tried back then all definitely Austrian? The grape also grows in the Czech Republic, Hungary and (I think!) Slovakia… not to diss those countries and their production, but maybe quality was not as good as now due to lack of investment at the time…?

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No, I think it’s a fair question though I don’t know the answer for sure. I certainly think they were Austrian wines but to be honest they didn’t have my full attention so I wouldn’t bet my house on it. On the other hand I definitely remember trying Czech riesling, SB, and chardonnay, which have all improved a lot over the years.

(When this b*****y virus has settled down, and Brexit allows, I will have to go back to make sure that improvement has continued in my absence! And I suppose while I’m there I should also check that beer standards have been maintained properly.)


I’ve had the entry level St Laurent (also from Lidl) and a Zweigelt/Pinot Noir blend that I think I picked up from somewhere in Bristol. Both were lovely!

Indeed, no diethylene glycol anymore! I was on holidays in Austria in 1985 and brought back some bottles, only to read in the newpaper that they were on the list of the affected wines. I kept one bottle as a souvenier for many years, but decided to pour it down the sink when my kids reached an age that I wasn’t entirely confident they might not try it when I was away…


I checked my notes, no noticeable oak in it but it was in large oak and I think other one was Stainless steel only.