Summer Food-Friendly Austrian White Wine Merits More Attention



A review of several Gruner Veltliners.


By Louis Marmon


Gazette Newspapers  July 27, 2011


PragerGruner Veltliner is the primary Austrian white wine varietal. Grown mostly in the northeastern aspect of the country, “Gru-Vee” ranges from a light, slightly fizzy style suitable for immediate consumption to a lush wine with the structure to develop more complexity during cellaring. Sparkling Gruners are known by the German designation “Sekt.” Gruner’s characteristic fruitiness and signature pepper accent along with an inherent acidity make it a food-friendly wine, especially with summer fare.


With such advantages, it is surprising that Gruner is not more popular in the U.S. Among the likely explanations are the intimidating Austrian bottle labels, and the price, with many of the best examples ranging from $40 to $60. But a diligent search, and some help from knowledgeable wine store employees, will uncover a range of fine Gruners. Here are some examples.


Peter and Norbery Szigeti make the delightfully creamy Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Brut Sekt NV ($19) that has grapefruit, apple and honey flavors with white pepper and orange zest in the finish. Another excellent Austrian Sekt is the Steininger Gruner Veltliner Sekt 2009 ($24) that has floral and peppery aromas along with peach, pear and apricot flavors.


The majority of Gruners are non-sparkling, including the tropical fruit and lemon-scented Loimer Gruner Veltliner Lois 2009 ($16). Light in style, it displays well-balanced citrus, mineral and slightly spicy apple flavors that make it a great introduction to this varietal. The Loimer Gruner Veltliner Kamptal 2010 ($16) is bigger and spicier with more pronounced flavors including sage, apricot and pear. Also worth trying are the slightly sweet, citrus and spicy peach-flavored Loimer Gruner Veltliner Terrassen 2009 ($25), the rich, classically peppery Loimer Gruner Veltliner Spiegel 2009 ($35) with apricot, apple and melon notes, and the more opulent and mineral-rich Loimer Gruner Veltliner Kaferberg 2009 ($35) with peach, apple, fig and mint flavors.


From the vine-growing region of Vienna, the Wieninger Gruner Veltliner Vienna Hills 2009 ($19) has lemon, herbs and white pepper-laced peach notes, while the Weininger Gruner Veltliner Herrenholz 2009 ($25) is brighter with green apple and mango flavors. The value-priced Steinfeld Gruner Veltliner 2009 ($10) is much lighter, but still has the characteristic apple, peach and pepper notes. Made by one of Austria’s oldest wineries, the excellent Stadt Krems Gruner Veltliner Weinzierlberg Kremstal 2010 ($18) shows gorgeous stone fruit, rhubarb and tropical fruit flavors within a wonderfully balanced frame of grapefruit acidity.


Rudi Pichler sources his wines from diverse vineyards in the Wachau region. His floral Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltliner Federspiel 2009 ($26) exhibits stone fruit, lime, ginger and grapefruit, and the Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Terrassen 2008 ($30) has melon, Asian spice, lime and a bit of earthiness. Easily worth their price are the exquisitely smooth Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Kollmutz 2008 ($60) with tropical fruit, spicy peach, apple and herbs, and the equally refined Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltline Smaragd Hochrain 2008 ($60) that has slate, grapefruit and lychee leading to an intensely long pepper and mineral-infused finish.


Both the smokey Prager Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Zweirthaler 2007 ($50) and the rich Prager Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten 2008 ($45) are built for a few years of cellaring after which their concentrated minerals, fruit and spice will integrate and fulfill their marvelous potential. The Prager Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachtum Bodenstein 2009 ($55) also can age well, but is drinking beautifully now with smoky, slightly salty and sweet peach, apple and clove notes.



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