Nine examples were shown at a masterclass at the New Zealand Wine annual trade tasting.
Saint Clair winemaker Matt Thomson, who led the class with Yealands Estate’s Tamra Washington, said: “We find this really exciting. There is no preconception about how it should be made.
“I don’t think we are anywhere near defining our style yet, we are learning. I would like to think we have open minds about this. We don’t think we are realising potential yet, but there is interesting fruit coming through and that’s exciting.”
Washington added: “It is a real learning curve going forward. There is a lot more to New Zealand than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.”
New Zealand Winegrowers Europe director David Cox said: “It is a fairly small trend but there are 10-12 producers now coming out with a Grüner and capturing the attention, certainly in the on-trade, with lovely styles. It is a New World, cool-climate take on a lovely Old World grape.
“Is it the new great big thing? No, but it is an interesting development and a nice talking point.”
The Grüner Veltliners on taste in the class were very diverse, ranging from almost Sauvignon-esque lime and passionfruit notes in the Paddler Grüner Veltliner 2010 from Marlborough (available from Liberty Wines), to restrained cream, green pepper and hazelnut tones in Forrest The Doctors’ Grüner Veltliner 20120 from Marlborough (Adnams), with a range of styles in between.
Lime and orange, white pepper and cream notes were common features in many of the wines, most of which had crisp acidity and zingy minerality.
The tasting also hosted the outcome of New Zealand’s Riesling Challenge, in which 12 winemakers made wines from one block of wines in Waipara, with dramatically different results.
Some of OLN’s favourite examples were made by Ant McKenzie of Te Awa Wines in Hawkes Bay, Larry McKenna of Escarpment in Marlborough and John Forrest of Forrest in Marlborough.