13 May 2013

Snooth PVA: Wines of Austria

Sunday morning in Manhattan we left our Chelsea digs and headed over to a SoHo event space called Meet at the Apartment, a repurposed apartment with a big dining room seen at right, a kitchen, and a few other rooms. There we had our first of three Sunday classes. This one focused on the Wines of Austria and was hosted by Aldo Sohm, Chef Sommelier at Le Bernardin and recent maker of his own Grüner Veltliner back home in Österreich.

While waiting, we sipped on an Austrian sparkling wine, the 2011 Pfaffl Grüner Veltliner Brut, Weinviertel, $14. Gentle and relaxing with aromas of lemongrass, a slightly creamy texture, and mild white fruit flavors. In addition to Aldo, we were joined by other representatives from Wines of Austria, including Constance Chamberlain, who has been a long time supporter of this blog with samples and information. I've issued many thanks to Snooth for putting together the trip, but I also owe gratitude to the many wine publicity groups that put in a lot of work to make that weekend happen.

Each class had something special about it, and this one was superlative for having the greatest density of viticultural information combined with the fact that we all had to be dragged away from the table to make our lunch appointment. Aldo wanted to keep going even as we ran late, and nobody was eager to leave. He spoke about the general distinction between American and European sommeliers: Americans start with the fruit, and Europeans start with the terroir. There are obviously many outliers, but for this course we focused almost entirely on the soil and geology of Austria and how they impact the wine. Aldo spoke passionately about rocks, and passed around chunks of limestone that he had carried from different parts of the country. We heard about winemakers who would pick up a pinch of soil and chew on it to gauge how the grapes would go and how the wine would develop over time. It's also a nation in which a third of the wines produced are organic or biodynamic.

That we stuck purely to Grüner Veltliner should come as no surprise, but we got to see many different expressions. This lineup featured one small wine country, one grape, yet infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

There's far too much information in my notes for one blog post, but I would encourage you to explore the many and often very affordable wonders that are available from Austria. I mention the wine regions in each mini-review, but in brief, we're talking about the eastern side of Austria on the borders with Slovakia and Hungary.

  • 2011 Stadimann Grüner Veltliner, Thermenregion, $16: Bright green apple profile, dry and fruity with excellent acidity and minerality. Quite fresh and clean. I was craving oysters something fierce with this wine.

  • 2011 Huber Obere Steigen, Traisental, $22: Wet stone with a more brash edge to it than the prior wine. Touch of peach and white pepper. It is recommended that younger, tighter wines like this be decanted for a period of time serving--a great idea, but one that presents a challenge for warmer climates like my own.

  • 2011 Ebner Ebenauer Birthal, Weinviertel, $19: A bit of dust on the nose, but bright acidity, very floral and crisp. Gravelly and rustic, and one that would pair well with an earthy trout dish.

  • 2011 Graf Hardegg Vom Schloss, Weinviertel, $18: Lots of sandstone in this area, resulting in a wine that is richer, fruitier, but with medium acidity. Well balanced and a classic Grüner Veltliner.

  • 2011 Veyder Marlberg Kreutles, Wachau, $30: 100% organic from an eccentric winemaker. Tropical fruit, pineapple dominate this tangy wine with a slightly salty, bitter finish. Very unique yet enjoyable.

  • 2011 Sohm & Kracher Grüner Veltliner, Weinviertel, $38. Aldo's own wine, produced in small quantities--only 800 bottles in this release. There's a hint of mint on top, with very delicate apple notes underneath. Very soft and round with a mild, gentle finish. Incredibly delicate.

  • 2009 Moric St. Georgener Grüner Veltliner, Leithaberg, $49: Bigger alcohol content in this wine from a predominantly Blaufränkisch producer. Oak and a little oxidation, with a touch of bitterness.

  • 2011 F.X. Pichler Dürnsteiner Liebenberg Smaragd, Leithaberg, $70: Darker apple tones on this wine with a pure and silky body. Mysterious and fascinating.

  • 2011 Prager Stockkultur, Wachau, $90: Very ripe peach aromas dominate the nose of this powerful and rich wine. Big acidity and a slight sweetness round out the wine that has 4g/L of residual sugar. Yet another surprising facet of this versatile grape.

  • 2011 Ott Fass 4, Wagram, $26: Loess soil provides for a clean and charming wine dominated by minerals. Perhaps the most purely mineral-focused wine of the entire tasting.

  • 2011 Schloss Gobelsburg Lamm, Kamptal, $62: Dark and deep with a bitter edge. Austere and in need of much deeper inspection, yet we were running out of time.

  • 2010 Schloss Gobesburg Tradition, Kamptal, $50: From the same producer as above, but more mellow and approachable with a brightly perfumed nose.

Check out these other great reviews of the same tasting! VineSleuth "Gruner Veltliner: A Delicious Puzzle", The Reverse Wine Snob "Gruner Love Featuring Stadimann Gruner Veltliner", Jameson Fink "High Line Park and Gruner Veltliner: Contemplating Time and Space", Vindulge "So you think you know Grüner", Wine Julia "SnoothPVA: Terroir Driven Grüner Veltliners of Austria Create Food Friendly Wines with Distinctive Flavors", My Vine Spot "#SnoothPVA: Wines of Austria Master Class", The V.I.P. Table "My 2013 Vinous Revelation: Grüner Veltliner", Palate Press "Lingering Flavors, Lingering Questions: Tasting Grüner Veltliner with Aldo Sohm"

Note: This trip was provided by Snooth.

No comments: