We don’t want to commit sacrilege but we have the perfect wine for both Passover and Easter or maybe a joint celebration if you reside in a household that celebrates both. But, we will warn you that these may not be the wines for your Passover if you want Kosher wines. But, trust us. Whether you have never heard of Gruner, may have heard it in passing or consider yourself a Grunerphile, this wine will make the perfect perfect accompaniment to matzo ball soup, roast chicken, ham or turkey. We know, we have tried them out.
Gruner Veltliner is a grape, a wine that is made from the grape and essentially the national wine of Austria. The Austrians are so crazy for this grape that it takes up nearly a third of all vine plantings in the entire country and it grows in almost every part of the country where vines can grow. Not bad for a grape that wasn’t hugely popular until the 1950’s. But, to be fair, Austria is pretty cold and not all grapes can grow there. While I don’t know if the Gruner craze will hit the rest of the world like it Austria, we predict that it will continue on its path to becoming an extremely popular white wine. Also, if Gruner’s march to being the popular girl in school is going to continue, Austria needs to share more or other countries need to start producing wine that is on par with the Austrian Gruner. Seriously, Austria doesn’t like to share and a vast amount of wine is consumed there. Other countries that produce Gruner are Slovakia and the Czech Republic with the United States, Australia and New Zealand starting to plant more acreage.
If you have reached this far, you might wonder, does Gruner deserve such heaps of praise. The answer, truthfully, is yes. And, this isn’t the first time that I have recommended it. Gruner has the refreshing acidity of Sauvignon Blanc balanced by the weight of the wines, which provide a luscious mouth. Steely minerality is complimented by notes of arugula, white pepper, citrus and green apple. Additional notes of stone fruit, especially peach, and tropical notes are imbued from the wine’s growing area. This ensures that Gruner will have those arugula, citrus and white pepper notes that people love but express little surprises from each region. Try them to find out which ones you like the best. One of my favorite regions is the relatively unknown, upstart Kamptal region. You may also find higher end Gruners that have spent time in oak, imparting those flavors as well. Like the high school beauty who looks great at the 20th reunion, Gruner drinks both well in its youth and with age.
Here are four delicious Gruners to try for Easter or Passover:
2009 Laurenz V. “Charming” Gruner Veltliner – this little gem is from the Kamptal region. It has a zippy acidity with a medium body and notes of peach, melon, lychee, arugula and white pepper. I would drink this wine often with or without food. Price around $28.
2010 Huber Gruner Veltliner – this wine hails from the Traisental, one of the smallest growing regions in Austria. The wines cling to narrow terraces in what can only be described as a picturesque scene. This region is known for its vibrant fruit and the long aging potential of its Gruner Veltliner and Rieslings. Gruner is dominant in this small area with over 60% of the plantings. The Huber expresses typicity of the growing region with refreshing acidity and its almost perfect combination of spice and fruit.
2010 Pfaffl “Haidviertal” Gruner Veltliner – this wine is from Weinviertel, the largest wine growing region in Austria. The Weinviertel is slightly north of Vienna and was Austria’s first DAC, which stands for Districtus Austriae Controllatus, what I would describe as a quality control system. This grapes for this wine are grown in the “Haidviertal” vineyard and are known to be textbook Gruner Veltliner from Weinviertal. The Pfaffl is spicy and juicy with tones of mandarine, lime, arugula and white pepper. Perfect for ham.
Szigeti Sparkling Gruner Veltliner this Gruner is sparkling. It’s made with 100% Gruner grapes in the traditional method with yeast imported from France. Yet, the true nature of the Gruner shines through with notes of citrus, arugula and white pepper. Seriously, what could be better than Gruner than sparkling Gruner.
Etz Kamptal Gruner Veltliner - check out our earlier review of this amazing priced wine. Plus, I love the fact that it comes in a 1 liter bottle and is enclosed with a beer cap. Talk about fun for a party!
Photo courtesy of WineMonger
Please note that some of the wines were provided as samples.