Monday, July 16, 2007

Graff Hardegg - Veltlinsky - Gruner Veltliner 2005 $9.99 - 11.99

In a first for my wine blog, today's wine is a Gruner Veltliner. Fresh on the scene here in the US, "Gruner" hails from the great country of Austria (one of the countries my family hails from). Not exactly the place that people think of when they are thinking wine, Gruners were brought about in the US marketplace by the demand for certain types of wines to pair with the Asian fusion culinary explosion in the last 10 years. Fresh and clean, these wines deliver varietal distinction with their hallmark white pepper notes, spicy mouth feel, and refreshing acidity. If you took a Sauvignon Blanc, removed the grassy and gooseberry notes and swapped them for white pepper and spice, you have Gruner Veltliner. If you ask me though, a proper Gruner has too much white pepper and in most cases is too spicy for spicy Asian cuisine. To me a Chenin Blanc, Riesling Kabinett, or a Gew├╝rztraminer are ideal with Thai, Chinese, and Japanese (CB especially with sushi) cuisine. I think minimally enhanced seafood (some butter, some garlic) and raw oysters are best with a Gruner.

If you are seriously thinking of getting into these wines, they have a very accessible price point. The most expensive in recent vintages are only about $75 from what the recent wine shop I visited had for sale (Crush Wine & Spirits – NYC), with many great bottles priced around $20. Wachau seems to be to Austria and Gruner what Napa is like to California Cabernet. Try other, less known regions to the marketplace and buyers such as such as Kremstal and Kamptal for ideal varietal character and great price points. Some say the soils in the latter two make for better Gruners, that’s up to you to decide for yourself.

Today's meal was a spinach salad with zebra tomatoes and my own balsamic vinaigrette, broccolini in olive oil and roasted garlic, and pork tenderloin marinated in olive oil, garlic and herbs. Not exactly what I would pair with a Gruner, or anything else specific, but the pairing worked well because of the refreshing acidity natural to a well made Gruner Veltliner. Now on to the wine!

This wine is a blend of different vineyards in Austria by the winemaker Graff Hardegg. Veltlinsky is considered Hardegg’s value wine and interesting enough is bottled in a Bordeaux style bottle and not the traditional Riesling style (long, cone shaped and skinny). The wine is straw yellow in color. Aromas of flowers and blossoms dominate a nose also containing spicy granny smith apple notes. On the palate, the acidity and peppery spiciness abound. Fresh citrus fruits round out the palate. The finish is white pepper, lime and that fresh acidity. This is a great all around wine perfect with food! Grab a dozen oysters, some mignonette, and drink up!

NON WHITE DRINKERS: If you "don't drink white", please know that wine is about what tastes good and pairs well with food. Not what color wine is and what people think of you when you have a certain color wine in your glass. If you care about that, do you really have any preferences of your own? I love cabs, merlot, pinot and syrah like any other wine geek, but not really in the summer when its 95 degrees and I am looking for something refreshing. By all means drink what you like. Heck, I have red with a lot of foods like fish that normally people would say only white wine will do on a 100 degree day. It happens, but not many times.
Please keep an open mind!

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