It’s official – Lark Hill & Hahndorf Hill make Australia’s best Gruners.
Not that there has been a challenge, we’ve seen a proliferation of Aussie Gruner Veltliner over the past few years, in line with the increased plantings of this classic Austrian variety. But Hahndorf Hill and Lark Hill were the first commercially released Australian Gruners (Lark Hill was first, Hahndorf soon after) and they’re still the best.
What’s interesting is how these two wines have changed over the years. The Lark Hill, in particular, has morphed from a quite simple, crisp and taut style into something much richer and Smaragd-esque, gaining weight and complexity along the way.
On that note, I’m looking forward to seeing more full-bodied Gruner in Oz, as many of the initial wines have looked just a little lean (and boring). Hahndorf Hill are already making a fuller style (called Gru 2) and I’d like to see even more made. More Gruner diversity!
These two, regardless, are right at the pointy end of Aussie Gruner:
Hahndorf Hill Gru Gruner Veltliner 2015
This sees some wild fermentation in older oak for complexity. TA 6.3g/L, RS 2.1g/L, pH 3.19. Green straw coloured, it’s very much in the Federspiel mode – taut and aromatic, yet not anaemic. Love to see the white pepper and grapefruit Gru aromatics here, with some white flower aromatics too. The crunchy palate has no shortage of acidity, but ripe acidity – no hard edges here. Lovely citrus in there too, the only criticism being that it is just a little too linear and simple. Nicely refreshing, this is smart wine. Best drinking: 2016-2019. 17.5/20, 91/100. 12.5%, $28. Would I buy it? I’d buy a bottle off a list.
Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner 2015
Also some wild ferment in barrel for Lark Hill’s wine. Green yellow straw, this is fuller than expected, with the trademark varietal pepper, but also mango and tropical fruit juice on the nose. There’s some plump fruit on the palate, which is fleshy and generous with a softness that suggests it is less acidic than you think – indeed its qutie crunchy too. Generous and yet also tautly formed, this is pretty easy wine to like, just holding the edge over the Hahndorf thanks to some extra weight giving an extra complexity. Best drinking: 2016-2020. 17.7/20, 92/100. 12.5%, $38. Would I buy it? A bottle off a list for sure.