Tag Archives: Gruner Veltliner

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Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner Sandgrube 2012

Kremstal, Austria

Grüner Veltliner is a white wine grape from Austria. Don’t let the name throw you off — the wine made from Grüner Veltliner is easy to drink and very food friendly. Crisp and dry, this light to medium-bodied wine has bright citrus fruit flavors and subtle white pepper, with gentle wet stone minerality and refreshing acidity. A touch of spice lingers on the finish. Extremely versatile, Grüner Veltliner can pair with food ranging from shellfish and salads, to spicy dishes and Asian cuisine.

El Supremo Torrontes 2012

Mendoza, Argentina

As Malbec is considered the red wine grape of Argentina, Torrontes may be considered the white wine grape of the South American country. This is an extremely aromatic wine, with floral and citrus notes. El Supremo Torrontes has aromas of jasmine, gardenia and Meyer lemon, with crisp flavors of white grapefruit, white peach and subtle honeydew. Give the wine some time to warm in the glass and the floral notes will grow more vibrant.

Colombier Ventoux Rouge 2012

Côtes du Ventoux, Rhone, France

In the area surrounding Mont Ventoux, the Ventoux AOC in France’s Rhone region is one of Provence’s most picturesque areas. Perched villages, local markets, sunflowers, lavender and acres of vineyards have inspired artists, authors and vacationers. The Colombier Ventoux Rouge is a blend of Rhone grapes Grenache and Syrah. Medium-bodied and richly textured, this wine has aromas of ripe black fruit and flavors of blackberries, plum, pepper, black olives, rosemary and a hint of mint.

Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere 2011

Maule Valley, Chile

Carmenere is a red wine grape that is originally from Bordeaux. Today you’ll find it primarily in Chile, where it has become the country’s signature grape. Pepper and spice characteristics are what make Carmenere a treat to sip, and make the wine an ideal pairing for steak and grilled meats. The Sierra Batuco Reserva Carmenere is full-bodied with concentrated flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black and green pepper, smoke and a touch of mocha on the long, velvety finish.

Winzer Krems Gruner VeltlinerEl Supremo TorrontesColombier Ventoux RougeSierra Batuco Carmenere


For more information on wine consulting by the Amateur Gastronomer email info@amateurgastronomer.com

AG Pick: Zocker Gruner Veltliner 2011

Grüner Veltliner is the kind of wine you crave on a hot day. It’s an ideal summer white, going well with a variety of foods including seafood, sandwiches and salads, hard to pair vegetables like artichokes and asparagus, or Asian or spicy cuisine. You can enjoy it with a backyard barbecue or simply on its own while relaxing on the patio.

One Grüner Veltliner to search out this summer is the Zocker Grüner Veltliner 2011.

It is rare to find Grüner Veltliner grown outside of Austria – a reason why the Zocker Grüner Veltliner is special. But what makes this California wine outstanding is its taste.

Zocker grows Grüner Veltliner and Riesling in the Edna Valley, located in California’s Central Coast AVA. The terroir of the Niven family’s Paragon Vineyard is similar to northern Austria and perfectly suited for the high acidity grapes.

With a name that means “gambler” in German, Zocker took a bit of a risk growing a variety that is uncommon in the United States. But it is clear that their gamble paid off.

Veteran French winemaker Christian Roguenant has produced a wine that is the ultimate expression of Grüner Veltliner. Fruit, mineral and spice blend together harmoniously for a crisp and elegant sip.

Enticing aromas of citrus and melon lure you in. Meyer lemon, honeydew and white peach flavors are enhanced with a touch of white pepper and crushed shell minerality.

The Zocker Grüner Veltliner has a lovely roundness to its taste and texture, with a pleasant, slightly oily feel that coats the mouth. Racy acidity tickles the tongue, and the finish is clean and satisfying.

A bottle of the Zocker Grüner Veltliner 2011 costs approximately $20.

13.5% alcohol by volume

In Georgia Zocker is distributed by Prime Wine & Spirits. Visit their website to find restaurants and retailers where Zocker is available.

More White Wines | Red WinesUnder $20

(Not So) Scary Wines for Halloween

Give your palate a scare this Halloween with some frightening wines.

There’s really nothing spooky about these wines — they just may not be as familiar to you as other reds and whites.

So go ahead, try something new. You may be scared how much you enjoy them!


Bull’s Blood

Bull’s Blood is the English translation of Egri Bikavér, a red wine from Hungary. This type of wine gets its name from a 16th century legend about a small group of Hungarian soldiers who withstood a siege of the fortress at Eger by 150,000 invading Turkish troops. The Hungarian soldiers were served red wine for motivation. Word spread among the Turkish troops that the wine was mixed with bull’s blood — the reason for the Hungarians’ inexplicable strength. The rumor demoralized the Turks, and the siege ended.

Ten different grapes are allowed to make up Egri Bikavér, though regulations state it must contain at least three. In general Egri Bikavér is a big and sometimes gamey red wine that has red and black fruit flavors. It pairs well with beef, game and hearty foods. Not all wine shops carry Hungarian wine so your best bet is to call ahead and ask.


Though Pinotage doesn’t have the most favorable reputation in the United States, you shouldn’t be scared to try this South African variety.  Pinotage was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault (known locally as Hermitage).

Selecting a bottle can be a trick or a treat. Done well, Pinotage can have flavors of chocolate, coffee, red fruit and smoke. Done poorly, Pinotage can taste gamey with notes of burnt rubber and rusted metal. The Amateur Gastronomer recommends the 2010 Dark Lady Pinotage, a lush and layered wine that shows just how good this grape can be.

Grüner Veltliner

There’s nothing scary about this white wine grape from Austria — except perhaps trying to pronounce it. This varietal produces food-friendly dry wines that have citrus and apple flavors with high acidity and minerality. Grüner Veltliner can pair with shellfish, seafood, poultry, spicy foods and Asian cuisine so it is perfect for whatever you’re serving at your Halloween party.

Grüner Veltliner is growing in popularity outside of Austria and is now grown in California, Oregon and the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Orange Wine

If you want to match the colors associated with Halloween, pick up a bottle of Orange Wine. This is white wine made in a similar way to red wine — skins from the white wine grapes are left in the juice, producing a darker color. The wine tends to be more intense in flavor than other white wines with notes of orange or tangerine and spicy ginger and sandalwood. Though rare and hard to find in most wine shops, Orange Wine is most commonly produced in Italy and (more recently) California.


It too may be scary to pronounce, but it is sweet to drink. Skip the Halloween candy and enjoy a glass of Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) instead. TBA is a German wine term that refers to the ripeness level of the grape. The riper the grape, the higher concentration of sugar; more sugar means a sweeter wine. TBA is the highest category in the German and Austrian classification system and the wines are intensely sweet. TBA wines are typically made from Riesling or Welschriesling. Look for it (or the less sweet Auslese) in the Germany, Austria or dessert wine sections of your local wine shop.

Happy Halloween and happy sipping!

Great Value Summer Whites

Keep your summer going well into September with one of these great value white wines.  They’re perfect for an outdoor picnic, a day at the beach, as an aperitif or whenever it’s too hot to drink a red wine (or later on when you wish it was too hot for red).

All of these whites are $10 or less, so don’t be afraid to taste a new or unfamiliar varietal.

All have screw caps so they’re great for outings or parties — no need to remember to bring a corkscrew.

Try one of these whites at your Labor Day weekend get together.

Starborough 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($9)
Marlborough, New Zealand
12.5% abv
This refreshing white is the perfect match for a hot day.  It’s light in the mouth with high acidity, some minerality and a crisp, clean finish.  Citrus aromas give way to flavors of white grapefruit, lemongrass, sage and a hint of honeysuckle, with a touch of lemon peel on the finish.  Though this white does have some herbaceousness, it doesn’t have the strong grassy taste that other New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs tend to have.

Essay 2009 Chenin Blanc ($9)
Western Cape, South Africa
13.5% abv
This white is not as tart as the Sauvignon Blanc, thanks to the addition of Viognier (5%) that softens the acidity and adds a touch of spice.  Refreshing flavors of lemon, lime and honeydew are rounded out by notes of white flowers and guava.  Overall this white is smooth and supple in the mouth with a lingering hint of granny smith apple on the crisp finish.

La Vuelta 2009 Torrontes ($9)
Mendoza, Argentina
13% abv
If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but want to try something different, try this white from Argentina.  Similar in taste and in body, this Torrontes has elegant floral notes on both the nose and palate.  The 2009 La Vuelta has flavors of orange, sweet lemon, a hint of honeysuckle and not quite ripe peach.  Crisp and lower in acidity than some of the other whites, this wine has a clean finish.

Niederösterreich 2009 Grüner Veltliner ($9)
12.5% abv
Grüner Veltliner is made for summer parties.  It’s an extremely versatile dry wine that can pair with all sorts of foods ranging from shellfish to spicy Asian cuisine.  If you’re looking for a crisp white, the 2009 Niederösterreich is it.  This wine is tingling with acidity, with almost an effervescent feeling in the mouth.  In taste it’s all about citrus — lemon, lime, white grapefruit — enhanced by notes of white pepper, peach, a hint of jasmine and nice minerality on the tart finish.

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler 2009 Riesling ($10)
Mosel, Germany
10% abv
This off dry Riesling is the sweetest white of the group, though still light enough to enjoy on a warm day.  Its golden delicious apple and apricot aromas continue to develop on the palate, enhanced by a hint of wildflower honey.  The wine finishes clean, with lingering sweet fruit.

Cheers to a delicious end to the summer!

Organic Wines for Less than $20

Organic wines can be confusing.  Some are labeled organic while others are not, and the definition of what makes a wine organic can vary among winemaking countries.

In general, organic wines are made from grapes that are free of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, and they don’t have added sulfites.  Most wines have a small amount of sulfites as a byproduct of fermentation, though additional sulfites are often used to preserve the wine.

For a wine to be certified organic in the United States it must be made from organically grown grapes, contain no added sulfites, and have information about the certifying agency.  If a wine does not have the USDA seal but indicates it is made with organic grapes or organically grown grapes, it can include added sulfites.  In other countries with organic regulations, organic wines must meet the standards set by a government agency.

Further complicating the concept of green wines are the terms “sustainable” and “biodynamic.”  Sustainable winemaking attempts to lessen the carbon footprint of the vineyard.  Instead of man-made chemicals, growers use natural fertilizers and cultivate plants that attract animals and insects that are beneficial to the vines.

Biodynamic winemaking incorporates the concept of organic farming with a broader worldview.  A biodynamic vineyard is thought of as a living system that is closed and self-sustaining.  Many things are done by hand, including harvesting grapes or plowing the vineyard (sometimes horses are used), and winemakers only use indigenous yeasts.  Throughout the year growers will treat the soil to enhance its life.

The best way to tell if a wine is organic is to read the label.  Or you can save yourself the trouble and look for one of these great tasting green wines:

2008 Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia Organica Torrontés ($11)
Malbec is to red wine in Argentina as Torrontés is to white wine there.  This wine is floral and crisp, with an explosive bouquet of rose, orange peel, lime, white peaches and aromatic herbs followed by ripe flavors of citrus, peaches and a spicy finish.

2008 Leth Grüner Veltliner ($17)
This lush white from Austria has ripe peach and buttery apple flavors with a long spicy and creamy finish.  A slight effervescence makes this a fun wine to drink.  Like most Grüner Veltliner, this is a very versatile wine and can pair with seafood, shellfish, spicy dishes and Asian cuisine.

2008 Aguaza Sol-E-Cic-O Almansa ($12)
This is a white blend of 50% Monastrell, 25% Verdejo and 25% Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s intensely silky with notes of green pears, banana, ripe lime and a hint of spice from the Monastrell.  It’s a perfect wine for a sunny afternoon.

2005 Old River Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)
This is a medium-bodied blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Cabernet Franc from California’s Mendocino County.  Smooth and well-balanced, this red has compelling aromas of dark fruits and earth.  Flavors of cherry, plum and strawberry are enhanced with a hint of vanilla from 8 months in new French oak.

2007 Finca Luzon Verde ($9)
This red wine is made from 100% organic Monastrell grapes.  For a wine that costs less than $10 it has quite a big taste.  It’s a bold and peppery red from the Jumilla region in southern Spain, bursting with black currant, spice, smoke and vanilla.

2007 Paolo Scavino Rosso Vino da Tavola ($18)
This Italian red is 40% Nebbiolo, 25% Barbera, 25% Dolcetto and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aromas of currant, cherry, mocha, pepper and smoke introduce a concentrated flavor of red berries and black pepper.  Good acidity and smooth tannins lead to a ripe finish.

2006 Jorge Ordoñez Muscatel Malaga Seleccion Especial #1 ($17)
This dessert wine is sweet without being syrupy, with flavors of honey, jasmine and tropical fruits balanced out by a lively acidity.  375ml

I tasted these wines at the Organic Wine Party: Green Wine Demystified at the Chelsea Wine Vault, part of the New York City Wine & Food Festival.  All the wines can be purchased at Chelsea Wine Vault or ordered online at chelseawinevault.com.

Austrian Wines at the Miami Wine Fair

If you’re a wine novice, the best way to get a quick education is to attend a wine tasting.  For a lot of learning and tasting crammed into a short amount of time, you can’t beat the Miami International Wine Fair.

Miami International Wine FairHeld at the end of the September, this year’s wine fair featured more than 1,500 wines from 20 countries.  It’s a bit intimidating when you first walk into the convention center, especially if you don’t have a game plan for where to start.

One of my favorite things about the Miami International Wine Fair is trying new or unfamiliar varietals.  My first destination: Austria.

Austrian wines are sometimes overlooked because of their lesser known and hard to pronounce varietals.  Sure you’ll find Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (often called Blauburgunder) from Austria, but it’s those other varietals that will give you a real sense of Austrian wine.

Austria’s most popular white grape is Grüner Veltliner.  It produces food-friendly dry wines that have citrus and apple flavors with high acidity and minerality.  Grüner Veltliner can pair with shellfish, seafood, poultry, spicy foods and Asian cuisine.

At the Miami International Wine Fair I found a pair of nice Grüner Veltliner wines from Dürnberg Wine Estate.  This winery is located in Weinviertel, Austria’s largest wine growing area located in the northeast of Lower Austria.

Austrian white winesThe Grüner Veltliner 2007 Select (middle bottle in photo) is fermented in stainless steel to preserve its crisp fruitiness.  It’s very aromatic, with fresh green apple and herbal notes.  On the palate, flavors of green apple, pear and tart white grapefruit are enhanced with a hint of pepper.  The limestone soil of the vineyards gives the wine a nice minerality that’s well balanced with bright acidity.  The Grüner Veltliner 2007 Select is $18.

Slightly higher in quality and price is the Rabenstein Grüner Veltliner (far left bottle in photo).  It’s made with grapes from 50 year old vines and aged on fine lees in oak casks.  Sophisticated and silky in structure, this white has notes of golden apple, ripe sweet lemon and white pepper.  It is more well-rounded and less citric than the 2007 Select.  The Rabenstein Grüner Veltliner is $23.

I also enjoyed Dürnberg’s Blanc de Noirs 2007 Select (far right in photo).  It’s a white wine made from Zweigelt, a red wine grape.  Zweigelt is the most widely-grown red grape varietal in Austria and is a cross of the Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent varietals.  It is similar in taste and style to Gamay, used in wines from Beaujolais.

The Blanc de Noirs has fresh red berry aromas, with flavors of raspberry and strawberry on the palate.  Lively acidity and a hint of sweetness make this wine refreshing and pleasing to drink.  It’s a nice match for fish, chicken or turkey, or enjoy the wine on its own.  A bottle of the Blanc de Noirs 2007 Select costs $18.

Austrian red winesFor another taste of Zweigelt I tried the 2006 Aconit from Anton Schoefmann.  This red wine is a blend of Zweigelt, Pinot Noir and St. Laurent from Lower Austria.  It’s light to medium bodied and dry, with flavors of cherries, strawberries and a hint of cedar.  Soft tannins give the wine an elegant mouthfeel.  A bottle of the 2006 Aconit costs $19.

Next I moved on to Blaufränkisch, a more full-bodied red grape.  It is the second most important red grape varietal in Austria after Zweigelt.  Blaufränkisch wines typically have flavors of dark berries, black cherries and spice, with medium tannins.  This varietal is grown across Central Europe and is in the Hungarian red blend called Egri Bikavér, also known as Bull’s Blood (click here for more on this type of wine).

For a taste of Blaufränkisch I tried the Lenz Moser Prestige Blaufränkisch Barrique 2007.  This wine is from Burgenland, the easternmost state in Austria.  Deep ruby red in color with some purple, the wine has aromas of berries and vanilla.  Blackberries and cherries give the wine a juicy and rich taste, enhanced by notes of vanilla and spice.  Soft tannins give the wine a firm yet supple structure.  The Lenz Moser Prestige Blaufränkisch Barrique 2007 costs $23.

Austria produces a variety of delicious sweet and dessert wines.  Click here for my article on Kracher, a family winery in Burgenland.

When it comes to Austrian wines, you must try a bottle — even if you can’t pronounce the name.

Stay tuned for more articles on wines from the Miami International Wine Fair