Aug. 20, 2013 10:38 PM
In the depths of summer, it’s best to look for wines that have high levels of citrus and that deliver on the refreshing and tart levels. Sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and albarino have a new dry white to join the game — the Austrian white grape with the intimidating name of grüner-veltliner.
It’s simply pronounced grooner, and felt-liner with a v. And although it’s been slow to come to the playground, it’s been earning its reputation for quite some time. Every decade or so, wine geeks come up with the New, the Greatest, the Best, the wine that no one knows about and no one can get. This occurs with no small amount of “nah, nah, na nah nah.” And in early 2000, it started for a then little-regarded or little-known wine from the cold north. Trends rarely stick, but if they do, they stick big. Here, in the hot mid-section of 2013, we have grüner-veltliner on the world table of great whites. Why? It is the greatest! Bright, mineral, citrus, refreshing, almost universally well made and a fantastic value. With its low alcohol, it goes surprisingly well with shellfish, seafood, salumi, Wiesswurst, bratwurst and a turkey sandwich.
• 2011 Nigl Freiheit Grüner-Veltliner, Austria ($20): This is a lovely but simple grüner. It’s a great one to start with. Behind the shock of tartness is pleasant stone fruit and some stony qualities.
• 2012 Gobelsburger Kamptal Grüner-Veltliner, Austria ($17-$22): This solid “quaffing” grüner is not complex but offers a clean, stony, citrus and light apple character. It’s low in alcohol and bone dry.
• 2011 Brundlmayer Kamptaler Terrassen Grüner-Veltliner, Austria ($21-$24): Wonderfully crisp and bright, with a refreshing tartness that has ripe lemon and green apple, this bottle is a superb sub for a sauvignon blanc.
• 2011 Veyder-Malberg Kreutles Grüner-Veltliner, Austria ($33-$35): This is a more complex wine with all the citrus and slate that one would expect, with some wonderful dry floral notes.
• 2012 Arona Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand ($12): Love the focused grapefruit in this one. It’s an excellent choice because it’s all that and in your face, but in the most pleasant way. It’s not too intense, giving it a very pleasing mouth feel and refreshing finish.
• 2011 Sancerre Domaine Vacheron, Loire Valley, France ($31-$34): A textbook Sancerre, and a beautiful sauvignon blanc. It is more restrained, complex and balanced than the average New Zealand sauvignon blanc. An elegant and lovely glass of wine.