Special announcement from Corkmasters.com:
Real opinions from real people in the Real Cork debate

In June and July 2002, we asked people to join the Real Cork debate. Over 4000 wine lovers visited our online survey to answer questions about cork and wine and give us their opinions.

In the survey, we asked if a wine label currently tells you the grape, the origin and the age of the wine inside, should it also tell you the type of closure used in the bottle? Over 60% of wine lovers said they would like the label to say if itís real cork.

You can read more views in the Real Cork debate and explore the Corkmasters website through the link at:

30 Second Wine Advisor: This week's sponsors

California Wine Club:
Is your wine cellar looking empty?


In This Issue

Drinking rocks?
Freie Weingärtner 2000 Terrasson Thal Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Top factor in your wine choice?
California Wine Club: Is your wine cellar looking empty?
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

Drinking rocks?

Austrian wine lovers, I am reliably informed, occasionally utter with pride an odd saying: "Why should we drink fruit when we can drink rocks?"

This unusual allusion does not indicate a bizarre diet. Rather, it's a proud reference to the presence of a clean, refreshing "minerality" or "stoniness" in many of the country's best white wines.

Rocks have aromas? Stones have flavor? Well ... few of us dine regularly on gravel, but the reference may resonate if you have ever walked in the woods alongside a stony cliff during a light rain ... or sucked on a clean pebble to deter thirst on a sunny day. That's the character often found in Austrian whites, particularly those made from the local Grüner Veltliner grape in the Wachau ("Vach-ow," with a guttural German "ch"), perhaps Austria's top wine region, located on the north bank of the Danube (yes, Strauss's "blue" one) not far upriver from Vienna.

Grüner Veltliner ("Gree-ner Felt-lee-ner," often abbreviated as "GV") can make wines of real quality, but it remains almost entirely Austrian, with some plantings in nearby Hungary and Slovakia. Unlike many other leading wine-grape varieties, however, it is rarely grown elsewhere.

Despite the proximity of Germany and a shared language, Austrian wines in general and GV from the Wachau in particular bear little resemblance to German wines. Warmer seasons, longer summers and different wine-making traditions foster a style of wine that's perhaps more like Alsace than Germany: Full-bodied and textured, aromatic and usually bone-dry.

Austrian wine, however, shares one difficulty with wines from Germany: The labels tend to be packed with long and seemingly hard-to-pronounce names and obscure terms.

Let's wrap up today with a quick look at one set of Austrian wine words worth learning. You'll note that the label of today's wine, along with the winery name ("Freie Weingärtner"), the vineyard or proprietary name ("Terrasson Thal"), the wine region (Wachau), the grape variety (GV) and the vintage (2000), contains still another term: "Federspiel" ("Fay-der-shpeel").

"Federspiel," which translates roughly as "falconry," is one of three terms used only in the Wachau to reflect the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. The lightest style, roughly similar to the German "Qualitäswein," is "Steinfeder" ("Shtine-fay-der," literally "stone feather," the name of a grass that grows in the Wachau's rocky vineyards). Federspiel, the middle style, is similar to the German "Kabinett Trocken." And the ripest grapes make the richest of the region's dry wines - comparable to a dry German Spätlese - "Smaragd" ("Shmah-rahgd," which means emerald and is also the name of a local emerald-colored lizard).

GV is made in relatively limited quantities, but its availability outside Austria is growing as the variety becomes better known and wine lovers discover its remarkable affinity for a range of foods. Some of the world's top restaurants are adding it to their wine lists, including Chicago's Charlie Trotter's and San Francisco's Slanted Door, where GV is recommended as an exceptional companion to the restaurant's Vietnamese "fusion" fare.

Weingartner Freie Weingärtner 2000 Terrasson Thal Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel ($9.99)

Clear pale straw color, with light citrus aromas backed by that characteristic Grüner Veltliner "stoney" quality. Crisp but rather full white-fruit flavors are laced up with snappy acidity; citric tang and minerality persist in a long, clean finish. U.S. importer: Vin DiVino Ltd., Chicago. (Sept. 15, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: Demonstrating GV's easy compatibility with a range of foods, it goes very well with an omelet stuffed with green peppers, onions and sharp Cheddar.

VALUE: Excellent value.

WEB LINK: The winery has a Website in German and Englich. Click to
The U.S. importer's Website offers a list of distributors in many states:

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
Top factor in your wine choice?

You walk into a wine shop or sit down in a restaurant and pick up the wine list. So many choices! For many wine lovers, selecting a single wine from a long list of choices is one of the things that makes wine fun. For some of us, it may be a little daunting. But we muddle through, and eventually come down to our choice.

For this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we offer a vinous version of the old "what one thing would you take to a desert island" game, as we invite you to select the one single factor that you consider most important in selecting a wine. Please drop by the Voting Booth,
and add your opinion to the list.

California Wine Club:
Is your wine cellar looking empty?

Is your wine cellar looking empty? Take advantage of The California Wine Clubís semi-annual WINE SALE. With savings up to 52% OFF normal retail prices, this is one sale not to miss!

The sale ends Sept. 30th, 2002. Take your pick from creamy Chardonnays, fat Cabernets, delicate Pinot Noirs and bold Zinfandels (among many others).

Check out their list of available wines at
http://www.cawineclub.com or call (800) 777-4443. Mention the 30 Second Wine Advisor with your order, and they'll include an Engraved Wooden Wine Collectors Case - FREE!

The California Wine Club also makes a great gift. Just $32.95 plus shipping and includes a fun 8-page newsletter, Uncorked. Send as many months as you wish. Call (800) 777-4443.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

We're returning to daily publication one day at a time, now offering three Wine Advisor issues and one FoodLetter per week. Here's the index to last week's columns:

Traditional or not? (Sept. 13)

Comparing differences (Sept. 11)

Swirl or not? (Sept. 9)

Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Chicken with figs (Sept. 12)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Sept. 16, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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