Ev­ery lit­tle Alps...

At its peak, the crisp pu­rity of Aus­trian Grüner Velt­liner makes it per­fect for al­most ANY dish

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - DRINK - OLLY SMITH

When the first snows dust across the peaks of Eu­rope, I love drink­ing Grüner Velt­liner, the crys­tal white that’s so pure it tastes like it’s been chis­elled from an Alp. Aus­tria is its heart­land, where it’s the most widely planted grape, and with a lit­tle la­belde­cod­ing, you can al­ways pick out the peaks.

The glory of Grüner is its abil­ity to pair with pretty much any food you care to name. From sal­ads or shell­fish, Thai spice to sushi, it’s a win­ner. Even with no­to­ri­ous wine-slay­ing flavours like as­para­gus and ar­ti­choke, it de­liv­ers un­par­al­leled de­li­cious­ness.

It’s all down to Grüner’s zesty fresh­ness, cou­pled with its uniquely sub­tle spice – some­where be­tween white pep­per and cress. It’s gen­er­ally a discreet echo in youth­ful wines from the large Wein­vier­tel area. But zero in on Kamp­tal, Krem­stal and Wachau, where the days are warmer, and you can find peachier Grün­ers with even more spicy rich­ness.

Top pro­duc­ers to treat your­self to in­clude FX Pich­ler, Don­abaum, Fel­sner, Bründl­mayer, Knoll and more – web­sites such as red­squir­rel­wine.com, alpinewines.co.uk and new­com­er­wines.com are bril­liant for help­ing to hunt out hid­den gems.

On the high street, the su­per­mar­ket own-la­bels are gen­er­ally good, and restau­rant wine lists can of­fer bar­gains to bag.

Gen­er­ally you can ex­pect un­oaked zesti­ness, but if you want richer styles, there are op­tions aged in bar­rel too. There’s even sparkling Grüner – ‘Sekt’, Hu­ber’s sparkling Grüner Velt­liner 2014 (12.5%) is in Od­dbins for £18.50 if you fancy nib­ble­friendly bub­bly this fes­tive sea­son – ex­pect a zesty sum­mery scent con­trast­ing with more au­tum­nal mor­eish­ness when you sip it. Or just raise your glass to cooler days ahead with frost, snow and pris­tine peaks.

Win­ter is com­ing – and it tastes di­vine.

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