Roter Veltliner is a white wine producing grape. It is one of the 22 varieties of white wine grapes found in Austria that are used for the production of quality white wine. A few of the better quality Roter Veltliner wines hails from the region of Wagram from the district Donauland. Believed to be a very primitive variety the actual parentage of Roter Veltliner has not yet been correctly found out. Although it has a somewhat same name as Grüner Veltliner, these two varieties are in no way related to each other. Sometimes rumoured to be a very distant grandfather of Grüner Veltliner this hypothesis is however not so credible in the absence of scientific proof.
Apart from Wagram the other places where one can find small plantations of Roter Veltliner are the Niederosterreich sub-regions like Kamptal, Wachau and Kremstal. Being polyonymous the other names by which it is referred to are Ariavina, Bakor, Belo Oka, Cerveny Muskatel, Debela Ariavina, Erdezha Shopatna, Feldleiner, Fleisch Roter Wälteliner, Grosse Fleischtraube, Grosser Välteliner, Nagy Veltelini, Rother Riesling, Saint Valentinrose, Veltliner Rot Weiss, Weisser Raifler, Ziegelroth etc. Although definite parentage of Roter Veltliner is not yet known this variety itself serves as an ascendant to many varieties like Frühroter Veltliner and Neuburger (when crossed with Silvaner) Rotgipfler (when crossed with Traminer). Other regions outside of Austria where Roter Veltliner is cultivated are Slovakia and Hungary.
History of Roter Veltliner grapes:
Up until the 60s Roter Veltliner served as the main source of wine in Wagram. For a very long period the hypothesis of Roter Veltliner and Grüner Veltliner being similar existed. However this was proved wrong by Ferdinand Regner who was a member of HBLA and BA for fruit and wine of Klosterneuburg, in the nineties. In truth Grüner is not even a member of the Veltliner family. According to the number of the vineyard census of 1999 Roter Veltliner covered almost 260 hectares of the vineyards of Wagram. However its coverage area has since been decreasing. 10 years later, it was found to have dwindled to 1/4th of it area, losing about 190 hectares. It is an autochthonous varietal of the Veltliner family and holds a significant position among them since it serves as a natural breeding partner for varieties like Neuburger, Rotgipfler and Zierfandler.
Viticulture and wine making for Roter Veltliner:
Roter Veltliner is a very trying variety as it needs loess soils in regions which experience an early warming. Additionally extensive care has to be taken during the flowering season as this varietal is highly vulnerable to winter frosts. This variety is even prone to diseases like botrytis, peronospora and oidim. And on top of all that it needs to be grown on site which is most suitable for Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. All these characteristics make it very difficult to breed Roter Veltliner and hence limit its production.
The first step of vinification process involves handpicking of selected grapes. The grapes are then cooled on dry ice to preserve their aroma and freshness. Then they are made to undergo fermentation in stainless steel tanks at 18° to 20°C by the use of indigenous yeast varieties. This continues for about 6 months. After this they are further allowed to age by letting them ferment on yeast for 3 or 4 months more.
Roter Veltliner is a very high yielding variety and hence limiting the yield is necessary to maintain the quality of the wine produced. Without the process of yield limitation the wine produced from this variety would be very thin and simple with no elegance whatsoever to it.
Characteristics of the Roter Veltliner grapes:
The Ampelographic characteristics of Roter Veltliner include large, deeply sinuated five lobed leaves. The clusters are medium to large in size with a conical shape and compact. The berries are orbicular, thick skinned and greenish yellow when young. However as is evident from the name they tend to turn reddish upon ripening.
This grape variety is capable of producing rich and elegant wine. Served in a glass the wine exhibits a medium yellow colour. The give out the fruity and citrusy multi-faceted aromas of peaches, pears, apricots, green apple, with a tad bit of mango mingled with the fresh and crisp overtones of herbs. On the palate it is succulent with the flavours of lime peel, lemon and lees with a stony mineral finish to it which leaves one craving for more.
Food Pairings with Roter Veltliner:
The wine gels well with dishes like vegetable based pasta dishes or risotto, Asian salads with lots of green leafy veggies like cabbages and a lot of herbs including dill, mint, parsley, tarragon etc. It also goes well with fresh goat cheese or mozzarella.