I’ve blogged before about how different grape varieties can be subject to changing fashion. For example, Chardonnay, has switched from being all the rage a few years ago to membership of the ‘anything but’ club today. On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have been ‘in’ for as long as I can remember while Riesling, despite the best efforts of winemakers and show judges, seems to be forever ‘out’. And all for no obvious reason – it just seems to depend on public perception at the time.
So, what’s ‘in’ at the moment? White varieties seem more prone to fashion than red. Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand, is certainly on a high and Pinot Grigio, too – although unless the quality of much of the latter improves, I predict its fate is likely to follow that of Liebfraumilch before long.
You can usually spot grapes that are becoming fashionable by an increase in the regions in which they’re planted. Viognier, for example, has spread rapidly in recent years from one small corner of France to California and Australia. And now the process is being repeated with the hitherto little-known central European variety, Grüner Veltliner. It’s a variety I’ve enjoyed for some time – its lovely rich and slightly peppery flavours go really well with full flavoured and quite spicy dishes but it wasn’t until recently that I’d seen an example from anywhere other than Austria or Hungary.
Yet, there it was on the shelf at Majestic Wine: a Grüner Veltliner from the excellent Waimea Estate in Nelson at the top of New Zealand’s South Island (£9.95). And it seems to have made the transition well; all the typical flavours of the grape were there: peaches, apricots and gentle spice, beautifully fresh and clean and with hints of white pepper on a long finish. Delicious! Is this the latest ‘in’ grape? It surely deserves to be.