Gruner or Chianti – High/Low Wine Weekend

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By day, I am wine student and spend most of my time studying. By night, I work at a high-end restaurant where I pour amazing wines. While I love wine from all over the world, my passion is for food-friendly wines that serve to enhance the dining experience and what people are eating!

One of my favorite white wines is Gruner Veltliner from Austria. It usually shows stonefruit along with citrus notes and vegetal notes. With a vibrant, crisp acidity and good minerality, Gruner can help make your dinner sing. Gruner is an excellent example of a wine that pairs well with food, including such hard to match foods as vinaigrette based salads with bitter greens (endive and arugula), asparagus and artichokes.

While Gruner is an easy pairing companion (as are most whites with the right partner), red wines are more complicated. Red wines are often more complex than white wines as the winemaker is striving to exhibit the underlying grape varietal, the terroir and oak. And, if the wine is meant to age, it’s a whole other issue all together. To pair red wine, you need to consider what you would be eating. One of my go-to wine regions is Italy. I love red wines from Italy and they are made to pair with food. Great examples of amazing food wines are Nebbiolo from Piemonte, Pignolo from Friuli, Aglianico from Campania and Chianti from Tuscany. While Chianti from Tuscany can be overlooked because of the excessive production, once you have a well made Chianti, you will never forget it. It’s sublime.

Here are a couple of great wines to try this weekend:

WEINGUT BRUNDLMAYER, Gruner Veltliner Kamptaler Terrassen 2010, Kamptal DAC, Austria

The wine was bright, straw in color with green reflections. On the nose, fresh crisp fruit notes of granny smith apple, yellow cherry, quince, and key lime. Interesting non fruit notes of gardinea, dikon radish, and a subtle white pepper note along with lots of crushed stone minerality. The palate confirms the nose with the fruits and non fruits experienced on the nose. The wine was dry with moderate plus acidity. The moderate alcohol(12.5% abv) really allows the minerality and white pepper to come through on the medium finish of this great value.

Try this wine with a classic Italian salad of arugula with shaved Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette.

Average retail price of $17.

FRATTORIA FELSINA, Berardenga, Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 DOCG, Tuscany Italy.

The wine was day bright with a ruby color fading to a thin garnet rim. On the nose, the wine showed ripe fruit notes of sour cherry, black cherry, strawberry, and red currants. This 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico is full of non fruit aromas such as tomato leaf, dried bay leaf, and fresh shitake mushrooms. The vanilla along with cigar box notes suggesting well-integrated usage of oak. The palate confirms the nose with the fruit and non fruit notes. The wine was dry with moderate plus acidity. Moderate plus in body and moderate plus alcohol(13.5% abv). The finish on this wine was long. Great job Frattoria Felsina!!

As you probably know a well done bottle of Chianti like the one mentioned and a good bowl of tomato based pasta with some shiitake mushrooms among other things should make a nice dinner.

Average retail price of $28.

Photo courtesy of the Wine Monger.

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