I’ve no sooner felt finer than with Grüner Veltliner 01/12/11
As a wine-producing country, Austria doesn’t get as much credit as it should. This became abundantly clear to me when I had to make more than a semi-conscious effort to locate my liquor store’s meager selection of Austrian offerings, which I found wedged lamentably in between the Germany and South Africa sections without so much as a helpful sign translating the word Österreich for those admittedly few Pennsylvanians not fluent in German.
So what’s the deal with this obscurity? Austria makes good wine, right? There are a few plausible reasons I can think of right off the bat: a name one letter off from a different wine-producing country’s, a big antifreeze scandal in the 80’s that wrought havoc on Austria’s viticultural reputation, and Hitler, for starters. But let these things stop you, and you risk missing out on everything the country has to offer.
By now you’re probably asking, “But Jason! How can Austria’s wine industry ever overcome this veritable triathalon of hurdles?” Why, with my help, of course! Read on as I review my first ever Austrian wine since college, the Bernhard Ott 2007 Grüner Veltliner Am Berg. Grüner Veltliner (often abbreviated GruVee [pronounced groovy]) is Austria’s signature grape, as well as her most widely planted. It generally produces light- to medium-bodied, acidic white wines with characteristics of green fruit.
The “Am Berg” series is actually the imprint for Ott’s lower-end Veltliners, but I’ll say up front that I was more than pleased with this $14 bottle, hailing from the Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) region. I’ll also note that this wine was sealed with a screwcap, rather than cork, if you’re the sort of person who cares about that sort of thing. In the glass the wine poured a translucent golden-yellow, and gave off aromas of honeydew and grapefruit, as well as sweet floral notes.
On the palate the wine was, for lack of a better term, bright. Dry and medium-bodied with a delightfully biting attack and crisp acidity, strong flavors of lime, grapefruit, and after some breathing, green apple shone through – great balance and complexity both, for the price. For anyone who’s interested, I paired this with some fresh mozzarella, and I was, of course, not disappointed.
I award the Bernhard Ott 2007 Grüner Veltliner Am Berg thumbs up – and I’m certainly looking forward to trying the winery’s more prestigious “Grüner Veltliner der Ott.”