30 Second Wine Advisor: Organic, but what variety?

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Organic, but what variety?

As I've observed before, I respect organic wines, mostly, because the effort required in growing grapes and making wine under increasingly strict organic regulations signals a commitment to quality on the winemaker's part.

However, "organic" on the label doesn't necessarily make the sale for me, as I'm not convinced that you can taste the organic difference in your glass, and most of the artisanal producers I admire, organic or otherwise, generally tend to farm grapes and squeeze the fruit with considerable respect.

That said, I won't turn down a well-made organic wine (or "wine made from organically farmed grapes" - for the details, check my update on recent U.S. regulatory changes in the July 24, 2009 Wine Advisor).

Today's featured wine, however, goes a step further: Weingut H.u.M. Hofer, a smallish producer in Austria's Weinviertel ("Wine Quarter") just north of metro Vienna, features its organic status ("Bio-Weingut") atop the front label, but requires a close inspection of the back label to reveal the grape variety, Austria's signature Grüner Veltliner.

Hofer, a Certified Organic wine estate, belongs to a group called Bio-Ernte which holds its members to organic standards higher the European Union guidelines for organic labeling.

Grüner or organic? Which to promote? It seems that Hofer's priorities are clear. The wine, in any case, speaks for itself: It's a good-quality "GV," fresh and crisp, with the "stony" minerality and white-pepper nuances that characterize the grape.

Today's Tasting Report

Bio-Weingut H.u.M. Hofer 2007 Weinviertel DAC Grüner Veltliner ($16.99)Hofer

Clear straw color. Fresh pears and apples, a bit on the fruity side for a GV, but that signature stony minerality is present in the finish. Dry and tart, just a touch of prickly carbonation on the tongue. Tart white fruit, "stony" minerality and a quick grind of white pepper in a long finish. Sealed with a sturdy metal screwcap to banish cork "taint" and preserve freshness. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y., A Terry Theise Estate Selection. (Dec. 6, 2009)

FOOD MATCH: Like most GV, this makes a versatile match with a range of fare. It went well with cheese and veggie pizzas on the first night; pan-seared, oven-roasted natural pork chops with sage a few nights later. With more than half the bottle remaining, under screwcap and refrigerated, it showed no perceptible deterioration over a four-day period.

WEB LINK: Here is the importer's Introduction to the Hofer winery, including links to this and other Hofer wines. Here's a link to the winery Website (in German only)

Look for vendors and compare prices for Hofer's Grüner Veltliners on Wine-Searcher.com.

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