Wine Club Dirt – July 2017

July Dirt 2017 – Gruner Veltliner

This month for Club Dirt we will be focusing our lense on the grape varietal Gruner Veltliner. Gruner is grown almost exclusively in Austria, though it can also be found in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Australia and the United States. Known for boasting notes of citrus fruit, fresh herbs and white pepper, it’s a thirst-quenching variety well-suited to drinking in the warm summer months. Gruner is beloved by sommeliers as it can be easily paired with a wide variety of food, and is packed with flavor that won’t overpower. We like it for its versatility as Gruner Veltliner can be an amazing table wine or have tremendous aging potential depending on the producer.


Markowitsch Gruner Veltliner 2015 – $13.99/btl

The Gruner Veltliner vines of the Markowitsch winery are grown in an especially interesting place in Austria called the Carnuntum wine region. Carnuntum, which stretches between Vienna and the Slovak Republic, dates back to Roman times and was once a major trading center for amber. It was also the site of Roman military bases, and was once the home of Marcus Aurelius. Today, amongst the impressive Roman ruins,  it is home to many Austrian wineries. The sandy, loamy soils here, as well as the hot summers and cold winters, makes for prime wine growing conditions especially with the cooling effect of the nearby Danube river.

The Markowitsch winery, or “Weingut Markowitsch,” takes advantage of these conditions, especially in making it’s Gruner Veltliner. It is harvested at the end of October and fermented in steel tanks on its fine lees. On the nose you will find notes of green pear, ripe apples, and lime with a yeasty quality like rising bread dough. It is very lively on the palate with, zesty green fruit and a spicy easy finish. This is your drink now wine. It’s fresh and easy and enjoyable all summer long. Ideal pairings would include sushi or salad dishes, grilled pork tenderloin, or even a spicy stir fry from the wok. Try these recipes:Mustard-Dill Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad Bowl, Spicy Vegetable Stir Fry


FX Pichler Gruner Veltliner Smaragd 2014 – $54.99/btl

For those who know Austrian wines, FX Pichler is synonymous with quality and is widely regarded as one of the best winemakers in Austria, if not the best. The history of the winery dates back to 1898 when it was founded in the Wachau wine region by Franz Pichler, who began selecting his own Gruner Veltliner clones. In the 70s his son Franz Xavier (FX) began making the wine, and it was then when the wines took on cult status. FX’s son Lucas has now taken over the winemaking which focuses on growing Gruner Veltliner and Riesling almost exclusively. These are delicate, elegant wines with an amazing depth of complexity. They are accessible now, but have immense aging potential, as a few years on the bottle with make them sing.

This Gruner holds the “Smaragd” designation, which is the highest level of quality found in the Wachau wine region. It means the grapes are at their absolute ripest, and must have an abv of at least 12.5%. This Gruner is grown on steep terraces near the banks of the Danube river. Peach blossom, cantaloupe and lily grace the nose making for amazing aromatics. Once the wine has opened up a bit, the palate is full of exotic jasmine and fruit, but is dry with stunning, citrusy acidity. The finish is long and savory. This wine would be delightful with vegetable dishes such as asparagus, zucchini, and artichoke, or equally at home with smoked trout or your favorite tinned fish. Try these recipes: Stuffed Zucchini Blossom, Smoked Trout Spread, Grilled Artichokes with lemon and mint