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Friday, July 3, 2015

Groovy Grüner

                                           >30% of Austria's grapes are Grüner Veltliner

Don’t worry about how to pronounce Grüner Veltliner.  It’s easier than it looks.  (grewner vilt leener). Don’t worry that you have never heard of this dry white wine ---it’s Austria’s signature wine grape and rarely grown in the U.S.  Do worry, however, if you’ve not tried this wine as it’s the perfect wine for a summer’s evening.

Until the 1990’s very few wine lovers had heard of Grüner but things have changed.  Today, any serious restaurant (whether it be in San Francisco, New York or Tokyo) is not without a Grüner Veltliner on its wine list.  In blind tasting after blind tasting among oenophiles in-the-know, Grüner continues to surprise many by floating to the top of the best whites…surpassing premier white Burgundies such as Corton Charlemagne and Montrachet.  Grüner is capable of producing very fine, full bodied wines.  Moreover, some of them are quite capable of aging.

Flavors?  Think lime, lemon and grapefruit mixed with peach or nectarine.  A note of herbs can be present that is often described as white pepper.  All of this is hanging cohesively on a well-structured backbone of acidity.

One of the most important qualities for me about a wine is how it pairs with food.  Grüner Veltliner is an especially food-friendly wine---it works well with the traditional pairings for high-acid whites such as chicken and fish, but it also works beautifully with spicy cuisines such as Asian.  Some even say that it passes the litmus test to pair with artichokes and artichokes, both of which have been next to impossible in our home to work with any wine.

The best Grüners can be expensive but they have enormous aging potential.  If you want to try a good one for $30 look for Niolai Hof’s Hefeabzug 2012.  The Wine Spectator listed it in its top 100 wines of the world, and Parker scored it a 91.

Get in the Groove!

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