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Grüner Veltliner - Humagne Rouge

Grüner Veltliner - Humagne Rouge

Breaking into our consciousness during the last ten to fifteen years, Grüner Veltliner continues to excite and grow in popularity. This is Austria’s most planted grape. Grüner Veltliner deserves all the praise that it has been given. Not only is it a versatile grape in terms of style but it has tremendous ageing capability, allowing for some tremendous stylistic variations brought on through maturity. The serious versions challenge other lofty white wines very effectively, winning at blind and trade tastings and in the hearts and cellars of sommeliers.

Grüner Veltliner is a very food-friendly wine with a spicy, peppery nose and flavours of lime, peach, quince and honey. It is a grape that ages well and the depth of flavour intensifies with each passing year. Sweet wines and sparkling wines are also produced to great effect. Grüner Veltliner is a welcome partner to many foods that you would not immediately expect to match with a white - it is arguably one of the world's most flexible grapes at the table. Try it with foods you would have considered traditional red wine territory, and heavy reds at that, like Duck Confit or a Beef Roast.

So what is Grüner Veltliner like? It is often described as being spicy, with aromas/flavours which include green and yellow apples, freshly ground white pepper, meadow flowers, underripe melon, green vegetables, (green beans and freshly broken pea pods spring to mind), newly mown grass, a flinty minerality and undefined citrussy notes, sort of halfway between lime and grapefruit. Lentils, mustard, and cress are commonly cited. Fruitier examples may show rhubarb and strawberry aromas. Depending on where it's grown, there may also be tropical and stone fruit (peaches, apricots), an earthiness and a mossy/herby/undergrowth smell.

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DNA testing recently determined that Humagne Rouge originated in the Val d'Aosta in Italy (just over the St. Bernard pass from Valais) where it was commercially extinct, but has now been replanted under its original name "Cornalin". The original name is used as the botanical name for the grape so Humagne Rouge is (Cornalin). However, the Swiss had reused the "abandoned" name Cornalin in the 1970's as a more marketable name for the grape (Rouge du Pays).

In Switzerland wines called Humagne Rouge and Cornalin are made from different grapes, but a Humagne Rouge from Switzerland and a Cornalin from Italy are made from the same grapes. You may see people distinguish the separate uses of Cornalin as "Cornalin d'Aoste" and "Cornalin du Valais" but the easiest way is to just know whether the wine is from Italy or Switzerland.

Humagne Blanche (Humagne) is, despite the name, unrelated to Humagne Rouge (Cornalin). The grape the Swiss call Cornalin (Rouge du Pays) is one of the parents of Humagne Rouge (Cornalin), the other being unknown and assumed extinct.

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