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FOOD & DRINK|WINES

Burgundies such as Louis Latour and some New World favorites like Kistler Vineyards from Sonoma and Penfolds chardonnay from Australia, the Grüner Veltliner showed it could compete with pedigreed chardonnays for depth, complexity and power. So what’s the big deal? Well, Gru-Vee has quite a few things going for it. It’s versatile, compatible with many foods and has the potential to gain complexity as it ages. More importantly, it’s often a great value compared to other wines from more popular places, with excellent vintages in the $12 to $20 price range. The most frequent wine-geek adjectives applied to Gru-Vee include apricot, citrus, mineral and white pepper, and any or all of these might apply. Depending on how the wine was made, the spectrum of expression for Grüner Veltliner can range from a pleasant lightweight quaff to a complex, full flavored spicy wine that can stand up to even tangy Pacific Rim cuisine. Bone-dry, tart and mineral more often than not, it leads to a common joke among Austrian wine makers: “Why drink fruit when you can drink rocks?” If you’re a fan of dry, crisp whites like Pinot Grigio or un-oaked French chardonnays, this might become your new favorite. If you like big, oaky fruit bombs like Napa Valley chardonnays, probably not. Make no mistake; this is an approachable wine. In fact, it may be the most versatile food wine known to man. It matches extremely well with all manner of white meats like pork and chicken, simply prepared unsauced fish or sushi, seafood risotto, scrambled eggs or even caviar. And it’s delicious as a cocktail wine on its own. This is an unexplored wine for many consumers and, when thinking of fine wine to drink and pair with food, most never consider Grüner Veltliner. But you shouldn’t miss out. Try serving some Grüner Veltliner at your next dinner or cocktail party and you’ll undoubtedly be won over by this crisp, congenial wine. Several restaurants around town serve Gru-Vee by the glass with some frequency, so you can always take it for a test drive and decide how it fits. Il Bar at Ristorante Panorama will usually have one or two Grüner Veltliner available in their 120-bottle cruvinet, and it’s been spotted at Tria, Twenty Manning, Jake’s, Morimoto and Fork. There are a few options available at the Pennsylvania Specialty State Stores and better purveyors in New Jersey, like Corkscrewed or Total Wine & More, both in Cherry Hill. Try some of these: 2003 Brundlmayer Grüner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen, $15.99—Zesty and fresh, with aromas of lemons and green peas. 2002 Jurtschitsch Sonnhof, Gruner Veltliner Kamptal GrüVe, $14.99—A striking balance between ripe peach and grapefruit flavors with a juicy structure and crisp finish. 2003 Huber Grüner Veltliner “Hugo,” $8.99—A combination of pear and citrus pith on the nose with refreshing acidity. 2003 Loimer Grüner Veltliner “Lois” (rhymes with voice), $9.99—Fresh and elegant with grapefruit and white pepper flavors. 2001, 2002 or 2003 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit, all around $13.79—A chance to host a “vertical” tasting with different vintages of the same wine from the same producer. An excellent value. —Katie M. Loeb These wines can be ordered through your local PLCB store as a special liquor order if they are not available on the shelf. E-mail ra-lbslo@state.pa.us or call 1-800-332-7522.
PHOTO BY STUART GOLDENBERG

Grüner Veltliner—the new white

Feelin’ Gru-Vee
Grüner Veltliner is the sommelier’s new ‘it’ wine.
In these days of anything-but-chardonnay and pinot grigio overload, it’s stilll possible to find something new. One crisp, fruity and zingy wine that tantalizes the palate is creating a buzz among the wine cognoscenti—Grüner Veltliner. “Grüner who?” one might ask. That’s GROO-ner VELT-lee-ner, affectionately dubbed Gru-Vee by savvy sommeliers seeking an easier and more customer-friendly pronunciation. The name actually means “green [grape] from the [Tirolean] village of Veltlin.” Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape grown principally in Austria. The Austrian wine industry as a whole doesn’t make a lot of wine, only one percent of world production, and about 30 percent of that is Grüner Veltliner. And the buzz surrounding this wine is growing. Much of the hype surrounding Grüner is the result of a November 2002 blind tasting held in London and judged by a panel of wine writers and winemakers that included such notables as wine writer Jancis Robinson, The Observer wine writer Tim Atkin and wine promoter Stephen Spurrier. In this tasting of Austrian Grüner Veltliners against other chardonnays from around the world, the top wine and three of the top five slots went to the little known Austrian Grüner. By besting some of the world’s most notable chardonnay-based Grand Cru white
212 PHILADELPHIA STYLE