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Allram Grüner is all about flavor

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Alice Wentworth, Jason Wentworth, and Mark Britten

Grüner Veltliner is the most widely planted grape variety in Austria, comprising more than a third of its vineyard acreage. Its name, roughly translated, means “green wine of Veltlin,” which was the 17th century name for a district now called Valtellina in Italy’s Lombardy region. Regardless of origin, Grüner Veltliner today is associated almost exclusively with Austria, home to approximately 80% of worldwide plantings.

What does Grüner Veltliner taste like? In his book The Wine Avenger (1998), Willie Gluckstern playfully calls Grüner Veltliner “a fine adult beverage.” Grüner Veltliner, he says, contains “something floral, and sometimes herbaceous…also a white pepper thing and just a hint of peach.” Gluckstern enthusiastically opines, “Grüner’s lovely balance and elegant mouthfeel are irresistible.”

Grüner Veltliner is, in fact, proving irresistible to wineries in the Finger Lakes region. None other than the venerable Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars now produces well over 1,000 cases of Grüner Veltliner annually. Current owner Fred Frank has planted 10 acres of it in his Seneca Lake vineyard, and believes the grape has the potential to become the region’s second grape to its flagship Riesling.

The staff at Northside Wine & Spirits recently blind tasted a group of 23 Grüner Veltliners, 7 from the Finger Lakes and 16 from Austria. The best wines were sleek, racy, and mouthwatering, exhibiting juicy citrus flavors, a mere hint of peach, and an appealing jot of white pepper. While the top few wines hailed from Austria, it should be noted that the Dr. Frank 2012 Grüner made a very good showing, and was well liked by the staff.

The top pick of the tasting was the Allram 2013 Grüner Veltliner Strassertaler ($16), followed closely by the Schloss Gobelsburg 2013 Grüner Veltliner Gobelsburger (also $16). Both these wines were vibrant and full of juicy, pepper-tinged fruit. They should be hard to resist for those who enjoy good Sauvignon Blanc. Try them with spicy Chinese or Indian dishes, grilled fish, pork or chicken scaloppini, soft cheeses, or dishes containing leafy greens. If you’ve never tried Grüner Veltliner, you’re in for a refreshing treat!

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