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Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

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Grüner Veltliner

A Delightfully Diverse Six-Pack from San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s close to the ocean and near another Central Coast region, Paso Robles. I recently sat down and tasted through a diverse package of wines that hail from there, and in addition to the excellent quality, what really stood out was the diversity. Not only are they making some terrific wines in San Luis Obispo, they’re also utilizing varietals that you don’t see very much of in California that fit in perfectly alongside excellent bottles of California’s usual suspects. To read the rest, head over to The Daily Meal.

Grooner – 2010 Grüner Veltliner

The Grooner – 2010 Grüner Veltliner was produced using fruit sourced in Austria’s Niederösterreich appellation. This offering is 100% Grüner Veltliner. This wine was made by Meinhard Forstreiter whose family has been making wine in this region since 1868. Under his stewardship the Winery has reached new heights in several aspects of their operation such as the implementation of sustainable farming practices. For the last several years he’s partnered with Monika Caha & Tony Silver from Caha selections to bring Grooner to the masses in the US. Their mission is to help educate the US consumer about this grape that they may be unfamiliar with and whose name they may have a difficult time pronouncing. The 2010 Grooner is widely available and has a suggested retail price of $13. A potpourri of citrus aromas fills the nose of this 2010 Grüner Veltliner. Orchard fruits in the form of apple characteristics are present as well. Lemon ice and papaya flavors lead an avalanche of citrus and tropical fruit flavors throughout the juicy, bright, concentrated palate. This wine just explodes in your mouth and offers loads of tasty appealing flavors. The citrus elements take charge through the finish and they’re joined by hints of white pepper and some tart green apple. This wine is marked by racy acidity that adds to its refreshing quality. Grooner is delicious all by itself but will also pair well with things like soft cheeses and light appetizers.

Over the last three vintages Grooner has really achieved its mission. It provides an accessible example of Grüner Veltliner that will easily appeal to those new to the varietal as well as providing sufficient complexity for those already familiar with it. Anyone who likes crisp, refreshing whites should give Grooner a shot.

Fred Loimer - 2009 "Lois" Grüner Veltliner

Most things evolve over time and wine is certainly among the number of ones that do. Fred Loimer has been making this Lois release for a decade now. It was initially conceived as a lighter style of Grüner Veltliner; perhaps one that would be easier for the uninitiated to enjoy and begin to understand. Over the last decade it’s become an even more focused release with a sense of place more deeply ingrained within its contents. Today I’ll look at that 10th vintage release. The Fred Loimer 2009 Lois Grüner Veltliner was produced using fruit sourced in vineyards near Langenlois and Kamptal. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel tanks, followed by bottling in January of 2010. This wine is 100% varietal. This wine can most often be found on shelves for $12 or $13. An interesting little extra on this bottle is that the back label is doubled. The top one peels off to reveal one of many different fun lower labels. This was the wineries gift to this release on its 10th birthday.

Aromas of fresh cut grass, lime and herbs are all present in the lively nose of this 2009 Grüner Veltliner. Apple reigns supreme throughout the palate. Both tart green and a hint of yellow delicious make their presence know. Citrus chips in as well and continues through the finish along with limestone, a touch of bell pepper and a wallop of spices including white pepper. This wine is incredibly fresh, vibrant and appealing.

What I like most about this Grüner Veltliner is its versatility. Not only will this wine drink well on its own and pair nicely with food it will also have wide crowd appeal. Whether you’re new to Grüner Veltliner or have been drinking it for years this wine has something for you. At $12 or $13 it’s an excellent value and good candidate for everyday drinking.

Sektkellerei Szigeti - Grüner Veltliner Brut NV

Something about Sunday says Sparkling wine. And so I chilled a few that were sitting on my desk and popped them open. After tasting them it turns out that one of them was of particular interest to me and hopefully it will be to you as well. The wine in question is a sparkling Grüner Veltliner. I’ve been sampling different examples of Grüner every chance I get so the opportunity to sample a sparkling one was welcome. It also turned out to be the best of the batch of wines I went through today. The Sektellerei Szigeti Grüner Veltliner NV Brut was produced using fruit sourced at a vineyard surrounding Lake Neusiedl; it sits approximately 328 feet above sea level.  This Sparkling Wine is 100% Grüner Veltliner. The Sziget was made using traditional methods. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel. This was followed by 9-15 months of aging on yeast.  This selection has a suggested retail price of $25.

A hint of lemon zest, followed by wisps of almond are the primary aromas in the attractive and somewhat subtle nose of this wine. The citrus theme continues through the palate where it’s rounded out by a lovely creaminess. White pepper emerges and leads to the finish which features brioche and yeast notes. The length is above average and the flavors really linger in a crisp and refreshing manner. There’s a nice final bite that serves to pull you back to your glass for another sip.

Whether you’re looking to drink more Grüner Veltliner or additional Sparkling wine this selection from Szigeti will fit the bill. It appoints itself nicely on both counts. For a suggested retail right around $25 it offers plenty of quality and more than sufficient complexity.

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Graf Hardegg - 2008 Grüner Veltliner vom Schloss

My coverage of Grüner Veltliner continues today with a selection from Graf Hardegg. This Austrian winery makes a bit more than 16,000 cases per year. 45% of their production is Grüner Veltliner. The other parts of their portfolio are also quite diverse. For example they currently stand as the only Austrian winery that produces Viognier as well as port. They’re located in the Weinviertel section of Austria about an hour north of Vienna. The Graf Hardegg 2008 Grüner Veltliner vom Schloss was produced using hand harvested fruit This wine is 100% Grüner Veltliner. Fermentation took place over 25 days in a combination of stainless steel (75%) and large, new oak casks (25%). Bottling occurred in April of 2009. This selection has a suggested retail price of $20.

The nose of this 2008 Grüner Veltliner shows some bright fruit accompanied by hints of spice. White peach kicks in as well. A solid core of apple is underscored by tingly ginger flavors through the even, full flavored palate. Lemon zest and grapefruit flavors kick in around mid-palate and lead to the finish. The aforementioned finish is tingly and spicy with throat clinging mineral notes that beckon you back to the glass for more. This wine is crisp, refreshing and balanced by well integrated acidity.

This 2008 release from Graf Hardegg is a fine example of Grüner Veltliner. It’s delicious now and will drink well for the next 4-5 years. As with most delicate and complex white wines make sure you don’t over chill it for maximum enjoyment. Without question this Grüner is well worth the asking price

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Laurenz V. - 2007 Charming Grüner Veltliner

A couple of weeks back I looked at an entry-level Grüner Veltliner from Laurenz V. Today as I continue my quest to cover an increasing array of Austrian wines in 2010 I'll take a look at another selection from Laurenz V. This one is also a Grüner Veltliner but it clocks in a few dollars higher. The Laurenz V. 2008 Charming Grüner Veltliner was produced using grapes from the Kamptal and Waldviertel regions of Austrian. The fruit was hand harvested in small lots. Temperature controlled fermentation took place in stainless steel. The wine was bottled in July of 2008. This selection has a suggested retail price of $24.99.

Vanilla and apple cider aromas are at the forefront of this Grüner Veltliner's nose. The palate shows excellent intensity with fruit, minerals and spice notes coming together to form a solid core of flavor. Lemon, lime and tangerine are the most prominent fruit flavors with ginger taking the spice lead. A hint of honey emerges on the finish which also shows off savory fruit elements and lingering spice. Excellent acidity keeps everything in check.

The wine is silky and lush. At $24.99 It's more expensive than an entry-level Grüner Veltliner but it still represents a very good value. There's a quality and complexity level here that goes beyond the price tag. An excellent choice to share with friends. The ones who aren't familiar with Grüner Veltliner are likely to be knocked out. Those who are somewhat familiar will be impressed with the many nuances this wine shows off.

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Laurenz V. - 2008 Singing Grüner Veltliner

Both consciously and subconsciously Austrian wines have been creeping into my mind more and more. Part of the reason for that is that there are a larger number of them available to us in the US than ever before. The variety has also increased and the quality has been steady. All those factors have come together to make Austria one of the countries whose wines I take every opportunity I can to taste. Grüner Veltliner is the varietal that has been leading the charge on our shores for the Austrian wine industry. That said many other interesting wines are starting to get here too. Today I’ll be looking at a Grüner Veltliner, but keep your eyes open for additional coverage of all manner of Austrian wines in the months ahead. The Laurenz V. 2008 Singing Grüner Veltliner was produced using fruit from the Niederosterreich appellation. This selection is 100% Grüner Veltliner. Fermentation was accomplished in stainless steel. 20,000 cases of this wine were bottled and the suggested retail price is $12.99.

Orange blossom, lemon and lime notes all contribute to the collection of bold citrus aromas in the nose of this 2008 Grüner Veltliner. The citrus theme, particularly the lemon-lime, continues in the palate along with apple and other orchard fruit characteristics. There is an overriding impression of gentleness to the palate that’s belied by layers of spice notes that emerge as this wine opens up. Gripping acidity and lingering grapefruit notes are part of the crisp finish of this wine.

There are a couple of key things about this wine that are really important to mention. First of all is that there is a ton of good varietal character at play here. For a wine in this price range that’s important, especially since there are still plenty of folks out there who have yet to experience Grüner Veltliner. If you’re amongst their number, rest assured that The Laurenz V. 2008 Singing Grüner Veltliner will be a solid introduction. The other key point is that while this wine should most definitely be chilled, don’t serve it too cold and risk missing out on the subtle charms that emerge when this Grüner is at the right temperature. For Grüner Veltliner I find that 50 degrees is just about perfect most of the time.

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Johann Donabaum - 2008 Rielsling / 2007 Reserve Grüner Veltliner

I recently attended a tasting of Austrian wines. The focus was on Blaufränkisch, which is Austria’s big red gift to the wine world in my opinion. However there were other varietals there. The cross sections of wines and styles were inspiring and I plan on tasting more and more wines from Austria going forward. If the tasting I attended was any indication there will be plenty of selections worth reporting on. Today I’m going to look at two white wines from winemaker Johann Donabaum. This relatively young producer makes a bit less than 6,000 cases of wine. Of these, 60% are Austria’s great white wine Grüner Veltliner. The first wine I’m looking at is the Johann Donabaum 2008 Smaragd Setzberg Riesling. This wine was produced using fruit from a single vineyard. This wine sells for approximately $40

The nose of this 2008 Riesling is lead by a combination of floral and stone fruit aromas. Honeysuckle, apricot and ginger play supporting roles. The apricot theme continues and in fact builds throughout the palate where it’s joined by yellow peach and subtle mango notes. Lemon zest kicks in around mid palate and shows the way to the finish which is zesty, spicy and lingers memorably. This wine is balanced by crisp acidity.

The finish of this wine goes on and on, quite impressively. That along with the overall balance are the two most impressive hallmarks of this wine. This is a world class Riesling that will stand up to cellaring over the next 7-10 years.

The second wine is the Johann Donabaum 2007 Loibner Reserve Grüner Veltliner.  The fruit for this offering was sourced from select vines in Loiben village vineyards. Their use of the term reserve designates particularly ripe grapes that are left to rest on the lees for an extended period of time. The suggested retail price for this Grüner Veltliner is approximately $40.

Moderate kiwi, citrus and green melon aromas waft from the somewhat reserved nose of this wine. Lemon/Lime zest is apparent throughout the palate along with a cornucopia of spice notes. Minerals and hints of chalk mark the seriously lengthy finish of this wine along with ginger, vanilla bean, and small doses of white pepper. This wine clings to the back of the throat for a nice long while.

As with the Riesling the finish is the single most impressive aspect of this Grüner Veltliner. Hints of sweetness are balanced by excellent acidity keeping everything in check. This is a very well made Grüner Veltliner and a terrific selection to pair with food. This wine will also age gracefully over the next 7-10 years.

Both of these wines from Johann Donabaum are excellent expressions of the respective varietal and fine examples of the serious and well crafted Austrian offerings that are hitting our shores these days. Both of these wines are worth making a special effort to seek out.

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Grooner - 2008 Grüner Veltliner

grooner_06Are you drinking Grüner Veltliner? If not I highly recommend you start. For the last few years this benchmark Austrian varietal has made great inroads in the US marketplace. Examples of this wine vary from simple quaffable wines, to highly complex, age-worthy selections that beg contemplation, and everything in between. And while savvy wine lovers have been in the know on Grüner Veltliner for a while now word is also starting to reach those that like wine but don’t necessarily spend all their free time geeking out about it. That’s where Grooner comes in to bridge the gap. Importer Monika Caha found that when she poured examples of this wine for consumers they reacted positively but the name caused confusion. So she approached highly regarded winemaker Meinhard Forstreiter to create a selection specifically for the US market. The result is Grooner, which leads with the phonetic spelling for ease. Today I’ll look at their current release. The Grooner 2008 Grüner Veltliner is produced using fruit from the Niederoesterreich appellation located on the southern bank of the Danube. This selection is 100% Grüner Veltliner. The suggested retail price for this wine is $14.99.

Lemon ice, mango and vanilla notes waft gently from the nose of this 2008 Grüner Veltliner. Flavors of orange, continued mango, lemon zest and an undercurrent of green apple make up the mouth-filling palate. Pineapple characteristics kick in about ½ way through and continue through the finish along with hints of honey and a gentle touch of petrol. That final note adds a nice savory edge as well as some extra complexity that lends itself to a very memorable ending.

I’m always interested in intent when it comes to wine. Grooner achieves it’s intent swimmingly. It provides good Grüner Veltliner character at a reasonable price and it’s an appealing, easy to drink version of the varietal that serves as an excellent introduction for those unfamiliar with it. This wine will pair well with a host of foods which is one of the great hallmarks of Grüner Veltliner. That said it drinks nicely on its own and would be an excellent wine to serve with appetizers or before a meal.

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Loimer - 2007 Riesling Langenlois Terrassen / 2007 Grüner Veltliner Terrassen

Over the last decade Austrian wines have begun to find their place on US shelves. As is usually the case it starts with those who are really intoloimer wine and then eventually starts to seep into the conciousness of the everyday wine consumer. Riesling would seem like the most obvious choice to make a foothold first; and there are some tremendous Austrian examples. But in my experience it's often something different, something that a country or region does that stands apart from other areas that helps them establish themselves. In the case of Austria that grape is Grüner Veltliner. This varietal is poised to do for Austria what Malbec has done for Argentina. Sure, it can be grown elsewhere but nobody makes Grüner Veltliner the way Austria does, ditto for Argentine Malbec. Today I'll look at an example of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from Loimer. This Austrian producer with a history dating to 1998 produces approximately 16,000 cases of wine per year. Well over 90% of their production is dedicated to white varietals; red varietals and sweet wines make up the remainder of their portfolio. The 2007 Loimer Riesling Langenlois Terrassen has modest alcohol of 13.5%. This selection is most often available for approximately $25.

Lychee fruit and granny smith apple present in the nose of this 2007 Riesling. Lemon zest, grapefruit, hazelnut, Bartlett pear and subtle hints of ginger are part of a full flavored palate that delivers waves of flavor in spades. Emerging tart apple notes and a huge influx of mineral notes emerge on the lengthy and persistent finish. This wine is tangy, zest and incredibly refreshing, helped in part by fine acidity and excellent overall structure.

This is a lovely Riesling with tons of character and many layers of complexity. My advice is to drink it over the next 2-3 years and to be careful not to over chill it. A couple of degrees warmer and you will be rewarded with a lot of additional flavor.

The 2007 Loimer Grüner Veltliner Terrassen comes in with an alcohol content of 13%. This wine is also most often available for approximately $25.

Do you like apricots? If you do the tremendous apricot notes that open the nose of this Grüner Veltliner will certainly please you as they do me. These are underscored by gentle hints of vanilla. Persistent, unyielding mineral characteristics are present throughout the palate. Lovely flourishes of lemon ice and stone fruit echo onward and lead to the finish which is unrelenting in length. Honey emerges and accompanies the mineral notes that just keep on coming. This wine is incredibly crisp and refreshing with a racy acidity.

This wine will pair well with lighter foods. It would go quite nicely with brunch selections. However, I personally prefer to sip this Grüner Veltliner on its own and contemplate its beauty, elegance, complexity and my happiness that this fantastic varietal is soon to have its day on US shelves. Not to mention the prominent place in the collective conciousness of wine drinkers that it so richly deserves.

Both selections from Loimer are tasty, well made and reasonably priced for the complexity and quality they offer. The Grüner Veltliner though is a slight cut above for me for all the reasons I listed above.

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