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Friday, October 14, 2016

Got Gruner?

                        Wine-Knows will be staying in this fairy-tale Danube village on its 2018 trip

I’m just home from a whirlwind trip to Austria & Hungary----a “reconnaissance” for the 2018 Wine-Knows’ harvest trip to these two countries.  While I had visited Austria and Hungary some years ago, profound changes have occurred in the countries, including changes in their wine industry.  What hasn’t changed in Austria, however, is that many of its wine districts continue to be Gruner-centric. 

Gruner Veltliner is flat-out a spectacular varietal.  While it has long been a favorite choice of many fine-dining sommeliers, this white grape could become the next Holy Grail of the wine world.  Blind tastings of “Gruner” by international experts have shown that Gruner can outrank top white Burgundies such as Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne.  In fact, professional tasters often mistake top Gruners for white Burgundy (Chardonnay).

One out of every three vines in Austria is Gruner Veltliner.  The grape has a long history in the country as the Romans were vinifying it shortly after the birth of Christ.  It achieves rock-star status, however, in the region of the Danube River on steep, gravel terraces.  Gruner is a beautiful melding of minerality, along with a profusion of seductive peach and nectarine in best vintages with beautifully ripe grapes.  But, in years of less sunshine, Gruner’s citrus mélange mixed with gentle spices also makes an attractive wine.  Regardless of vintage, the varietal offer gorgeous acidity to make for a gorgeously balanced wine.

Got Guner?   If not, you must search out the following which were my favorites on the trip that are available in the USAAll are family owned and operated wineries.  Each represents a superb quality – price ratio, with Muller being a steal for the price.  All are from Austria's castle-dotted northern Danube area just west of Vienna where Gruner reaches its pinnacle.

Listed in alpha order:

~  Bernard Ott:  Stein and Rosenberg (both 2015)

~  Hirtzberger:  Axpoint (2015)

~  Muller:  Kremser Kogl (2015)

~  Salomon Undorf:  Pfaffenberg (2015)  

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