Austrian Grape Makes Good | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Austrian Grape Makes Good

Austrian Grape Makes Good

Shirah Gruner Veltliner John Sebastiano Vineyard 2014

The Shirah Gruner Veltliner John Sebastiano Vineyard 2014 opens with melon aromas and leads into mango, peach and herbal flavors.

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Not all that long ago, perhaps a few decades, the wine world was remarkably dull by today’s standards. Wines were made in traditional locations under long established regulations and methodologies. Only a few grape varietals were permitted in the production of Bordeaux, a couple others were okay in a Burgundy, and different ones in a Barolo and so on. The Old World wine folks and fans argue that centuries of experience led to this ideal match of grape varietal to terroir, allowing for the creation of the best possible wines from the local conditions.

There is obviously something to this, as many excellent and even legendary wines were produced under this system. On the other hand, however, since the late 1970s the world has begun to recognize that the old approach stifled innovation. It further maintained the old prejudice that only European wines were worthy of consumption by the hoity-toity amongst us, and that only Old World wine production was capable of creating truly “fine wines.”

Thankfully, the wine world has changed. Now numerous different grape varietals are being grown in nearly every locale that can sustain a vineyard. Wine lovers can now explore the differences between Pinot Noirs grown in Burgundy to those from, say, Oregon, Sonoma, Israel and New Zealand. The same goes for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and all the other red and white “noble” grape varietals—do you prefer white Burgundy with that meal, or maybe a CA Chard, or perhaps an Aussie, or Israeli, or NY Chardonnay?  This widened vision of wine also means that increasingly one need not travel the globe to taste the “local” wines of this or that place, such as the unpronounceable grape varietals of Georgia, Greece, Cyprus or even Turkey.

Consider Gruner Veltliner, the primary Austrian white wine grape varietal that is also being grown with much success here in the United States.  Called “Gru-Vee” in some circles, it is often made in a light, early-drinking style, but it also has the potential to be produced as a lush, well-structured wine that will grow more complex with age. Gruner’s distinctive acidity, characteristic fruitiness and signature pepper accent make it a very summer-food friendly wine.

A delightful kosher example, the only one presently available anywhere that we know of, can be had from California’s Shirah Wine Company. Definitely worth a try! Shirah Gruner Veltliner John Sebastiano Vineyard 2014 ($35) opens with melon and jasmine aromas, which lead into green apple, mango, peach, white pepper and herbal flavors, with a notable minerality and bright citrus acidity. Very tasty and most refreshing.

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