Wine Focus: Austria
The beautiful blue Danube. The lofty, snow-capped Alps. "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens ... Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens." Lederhosen and dirndls and the whole Sound of Music thing, not to mention Mozart and Lehar and Strauss and Die Fledermaus: Speak of Austria and a whole wealth of evocative images pours out.
But only wine "geeks" with a taste for transparent clarity, minerality and a cool refreshing character in admirably versatile table wines are likely to think first of wine when Austria's name is invoked.
We're hoping to do our small part to change that in this month's Wine Focus on our WineLovers Discussion Group, as we feature the wines of Austria - all the wines of Austria - as our topic for April.
Open a Grüner Veltliner, a Riesling, a Zweigelt or even a Blaufrankish if you please, but whatever you choose, do join us as we celebrate spring with some of the most refreshing white and red wines on the planet.
For today's tasting note, let's take another look at a uniquely Austrian white grape variety, Grüner Veltliner ("GV" for short), a grape that I featured in one of the two great cheap wines covered last week.
This week's wine is another GV, this one from the respected producer Weingut Martin Nigl ("Nihg'l") in Austria's Kremstal region, just about an hour's drive west of Vienna on the north bank of the Danube.
It cost me $16 for a regular bottle, making it about double the cost of last week's bargain-basement liter bottle from Weingut Ecker. Not that there was anything wrong with the Ecker - it was about as good a wine buy based on price-per-ounce as I've tried in recent months. The Nigl, on the other hand, is serious GV, a crisp, intense example of the variety that will give you a benchmark example of what this minerally Austrian wine is all about.
You're warmly invited to participate in Wine Focus. Simply click over to the WineLovers Discussion Group this month with your Austrian wine questions, travel reports, tasting notes and what have you. Click here to read and take part in the discussion on "the Wines of Austria."
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Nigl 2008 Kremser Freiheit Grüner Veltliner ($15.99)
Very clear, pale gold color. Subtle, pleasant aromas meld sweet lemon zest and the earthy "lentil" that often signals Grüner Veltliner. Tart and zippy on the palate, zesty white fruit with a distinct stony minerality in the background. Crisp citric flavors and palate-cleansing acidity linger in a long finish. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y.; A Terry Theise Estate Selection. (April 1, 2010)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with fish, a standard with Southeast Asian dishes and versatile with vegetarian fare; it made a happy marriage with hearty lentil soup at a Maundy Thursday supper.
VALUE: The mid-teens is an inviting range for a Grüner Veltliner of this quality. In some metro areas where GV is a more sought-after item, you'll likely find it selling for more.
WEB LINK: The Nigl Website, featuring information about the winery and its restaurant and hotel, is available in German and English; click the links at lower right on the main page for your choice or go direct to the winery home page in English.
Here's a link to a short report on this wine in the 2009 vintage.
For more information on Nigl in English, see this page on the importer's Website.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and find vendors for Nigl Kremstal Grüner Veltliner on Wine-Searcher.com.
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