I’ve had a thing for Grüner Veltliner for a few years now, since my husband and I enjoyed a bottle at a beloved shorefront restaurant. It was crisp, tart, and cool, like a sauvignon blanc with attitude. So when I had the chance to try a sparkling iteration—by way of Schlumberger Grüner Veltliner Brut Klassik 2017—I gladly took the opportunity. It’s a sophisticated but whimsical expression of Austria’s signature grape, one that pairs well with your socially distant holiday gathering (or, with its $24 price, any other night of the week).
Founded in Austria in 1842, Schlumberger is the oldest sparkling wine producer in the country. But Stuttgart-born creator Robert Alwin Schlumberger’s career didn’t begin in Austria; instead, it began in the Champagne region, with cellar Ruinart Pére et Fils in Reims. He ascended the ranks and became cellar master and production manager, and learned the art of making Champagne in the méthode traditionnelle. So what brought him to Austria? Love. (A perfect pairing for bubbly!) He met the Viennese Sophie Kirchner on a boat on the Rhine; when her parents did not approve of him moving to France, he came to Austria, and began producing sparkling wine in the manner of his career’s roots.
Nearly 200 years later, Schlumberger is still creating wines in the méthode traditionnelle, using 100 percent Austrian-grown grapes. Today, its varieties are labeled under the Austrian quality pyramid for sparkling selections—classic, reserve and great reserve—and bear the Sekt PDO (protected designation of origin) seal.
The Grüner Veltliner Brut Klassik falls into the classic category. That means, among other things, that all processing occurs in Austria, grapes are from a single federal state, and spend at least nine months on the yeast (for Schlumberger, it is at least 16 months). The base wines stem from contract winemakers in Lower Austria, particularly Poysdorf and Burgenland.
The liquid’s golden color has an almost-imperceptible green hue, nodding to the light green label and the notes of lime, rind, and green apple that carry through from nose to sip. The bubbles are firm and lively, and there’s a lovely, spicy zing on the back palate that I find curious and enticing. It’s nicely balanced, both dry and refreshing, with developing layers of tangy citrus and tart apple flesh, along with not-quite-ripe pear and ginger.
A good snack complement: Turkish figs and brie, both full-flavored foils to the zesty wine. The tasting notes suggest fried fish and mild Asian cuisine; I enjoyed it with a jerk carrot and cauliflower bowl, with quinoa, avocado, shaved Brussels sprouts and a light vinaigrette—the wine was well-matched for the zippy salad, bringing out a lovely play from savory to spicy to sweet.
Does the sparkling iteration stand up to its still sister? With style.