Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gruner Veltliner for Christmas?

Best darn rack of pork I've ever had, courtesy of Fima.

On the first day of Christmas... I was going to serve Champagne with dinner. Gruner Veltliner was supposed to be a pre-dinner curiosity drink. But when my mom and I gave the 2008 Forstreiter Gruner Veltliner Schiefer Reserve from Kremstal DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) a sip, I thought I heard jingle bells. At just under $20 (at WineChateau.com), this wine delivered outstanding QPR this holiday season.

Champagne? What Champagne! The bottle of Gruner lasted us all through the meal. It worked with both the salad (of Romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, and home-made Caesar style dressing with anchovies, mustard, and olive oil) and with an incredible rack of pork that my step-dad Fima roasted to moist, juicy, savory, sweet perfection!

Gruner Veltliner (or "grooner" or "gru-vee") is the wine grape of Austria. If you think Zweigelt, Zierfandler, and Rotgipfler are too obscure for you, you might actually recognize Gruner. It's a sort of Austria's answer to German Riesling. Austrians make world-class Riesling too, but that's minority of their production.

Gruner Veltiners have great minerality. Completely dry, crisp and clean, without sugar or oak masking anything, the crushed stones in the Austrian wine feel alive, almost like drinking electron-infused mineral water. That, combined with tangy citrus peel, hints of apples and peaches woven into inexplicable complexity with razor-focused acidity makes Gruner a versatile and impressive white wine.

Why would anyone outside of Austria drink Gruner Veltliner? Well, as someone who drinks a lot of wine from around the world, and especially Old World, after dipping into a couple of Gruners over this past weekend, I am a fan. In fact, I would put them into the same league of nobility as Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. To learn more about the ins and outs of Austrian wines, I recommend Christian Schiller's most informative blog and the official Austrian Wine website.

As much as I like the whites of Italy, especially Friuli, Veneto, and Campania, I have to say - from my recent experiences with Austrian wines, they are starting to earn a spot in my virtual white wine hierarchy alongside Germany, just below France.


Dan Raveneau said...

Ahhhh Gruner, spectacular versatile wine!

Dr. Christian G.E. Schiller said...

Gary - Here is more on Austrian wines, posted today. http://www.schiller-wine.blogspot.com/2010/12/austrias-best-wines-and-winemakers.html

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