We don’t drink very much Grüner Veltliner. When we do it is usually at a wine tasting, a wine bar or in a restaurant with a diverse wine list. We always make a point of drinking adventurously when we dine out, as we do when at home, but on a daily basis we just don’t think of Grüner Veltliner. That’s a shame.
Thanks to Martin Redmond, who blogs at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog we were recently prompted to consider Grüner Veltliner. In case you’re wondering how to correctly pronounce Grüner Veltliner here is a fun video that will show you. Martin is hosting the September Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW on Twitter) virtual get-together and he chose Grüner Veltliner as the topic. It took a bit more work than usual to obtain the wine for our food pairing this month, but the extra work was worth the effort.
After an unsuccessful search of local wine shops we turned to Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant, one of our favorite places to drink wine when we visit Santa Barbara. Their wine list at the wine bar is always interesting and broad; their stock of retail wines even more so. Just as we hoped they had several Grüner Veltliners to choose from. We wanted to taste at least two Grüner Veltliners to give us an idea of the range of flavors the variety has to offer. We decided to open two of the three bottles we ordered for Wine Pairing Weekend.
When considering food pairings for the wines I looked to our local Farmers Market to see what was new. I was happy to find local pears in the market and decided they would be the inspiration for our food pairings. The thing I love about shopping at the Farmers Market is that I can usually find produce that is closer to being ripened on the vine, or in this case on the tree. That was the case with these pears which were so fragrant, but not too ripe. I wanted pear flavor but not too much sweetness for the pairing I had in mind.
The fragrance of the pears inspired me to prepare pear and Gorgonzola pizza. We’ve had it once or twice in restaurants, but never prepared it ourselves, so we decided to experiment. In order to use up most of the pears we decided to create another pizza using pears. So, we enjoyed pizza two nights in a row and were able to taste both Grüner Veltliners with both pizzas…you might say a pair of pear pairings for our pair of Grüner Veltliners. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Grüner Veltliner and Its Home
Grüner Veltliner originated in Austria as a natural cross of Traminer and what is called St. Georgen, named after the location where the only vine of its kind survives. Grüner Veltliner is the most widely-planted grape variety in Austria, comprising nearly 30% of vineyard plantings in the country. It is practically synonymous with Austrian winemaking. Most of the world’s plantings of the variety are in Austria with smaller plantings in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Only a sprinkling of vineyard acreage is planted in other wine regions of the world.
Austria lies to the south and east of Germany at about the same latitude as central France. Austria shares borders with Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south. The climate is considered continental and a bit warmer than Germany. The major winemaking regions lie in the northeast, east and southeast portion of Austria.
The earliest evidence of winemaking in what is now Austria dates back to 700 BCE. Between the 10th and 12th centuries Burgundian winemaking techniques were introduced by Cistercian monks. Over the centuries the volume of winemaking in the region has increased and decreased along with regional political changes. For a time quality was sacrificed in favor of quantity. Styles have changed and wine laws have been formalized since a scandal in 1985 exposed a small amount of tainted wine. The quality of winemaking in Austria is now considered to be very high.
2013 Stift Göttweig Messwein Grüner Veltliner — pale yellow-green in the glass with citrus, mineral and toasty aromas. Melon flavors combine with delicate apricot flavors, minerals and citrusy acidity. Interesting hints of white pepper add to the complex flavors. The finish is at least medium in length and finishes with considerable, juicy acidity. 12% abv. $23.
Stift Göttweig (Göttweig Abbey) was founded in 1083 and has a long history of winemaking. The abbey is situated on a hill, with 26 hectares of vineyards below, and views of the Danube River. It is located in the Kremstal wine region.
The wine bottle’s front label reflects the abbey’s history in its statement Das Weingut der Benediktiner. You will also find the date of the abby’s founding along with messwein (altar wine) and the statement Ut in omnibus glorificicetur deus. The back label documents the wine as a Quality Wine with the regional designation of Niederösterreich which you will find on the map above.
Weingut Stift Göttweig also makes a delightful rosé of Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed last time we were at Les Marchands Wine Bar in Santa Barbara.
2014 Weingut Jäger Federspiel Klaus Grüner Veltliner — pale yellow in the glass with delicate toasted almond aromas. Flavors reflect primarily stony, dusty minerality combined with hints of smoke and toast. Interesting herbal backnotes develop with time and the finish is moderate in length with nice acidity. The minerality defines the flavors in this wine, but it is by no means simple. 11.5% abv. $27.
Weingut Jäger is a family-owned winery located in the Wachau wine region with vineyards in multiple sites. This wine is sourced from their Klaus vineyard, hence the name on the bottle. Wineries in the Wachau wine region who are members of the organization Vinea Wachau may use their own unique wine classification system on their wine bottle label. In addition to agreeing to the organization’s requirements for growing area and production methods, the members may use one of three quality designations (Steinfeder, Federspiel, Smaragd) on the wine bottle label.
The quality indicator is based on must weight and alcohol level of the finished wine. Steinfeder indicates the earliest-picked grapes with the lowest alcohol level in the finished wine. These wines are light and inexpensive. This style is mostly consumed in Austria. Federspiel indicates a riper style of wine with finished alcohol between 11.5 and 12.5% abv and have more concentrated flavors but still relatively low alcohol. Smaragd-classified wines are produced from the ripest grapes and have at least 12.5% abv in the finished wine. These wines are the most concentrated and age-worth wines of the Wachau.
If you take a close look at the Weingut Jäger wine bottle label you will see the Vinea Wachau organization seal along with the quality designation, Federspiel, and the vineyard name, Klaus. There is a lot of information on a bottle of Austrian wine.
The first evening we prepared a pear and Gorgonzola Pizza. I used Martha Stewart’s Quick Basic Pizza Dough recipe. It really is quick and easy and comes with video instructions which I found reassuring the first time I made the recipe. This recipe makes enough for two 14-inch round pizzas. I cut the recipe in half if I want to make just one pizza.
Instructions for making the pear and Gorgonzola pizza are simple. Place a pizza stone in the lower rack of your oven and preheat to 475 ºF for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 450 ºF. Form the pizza dough into a 14-inch round on parchment paper. Slice 8-oz of fresh mozzarella and spread over the pizza dough. Quarter, core and slice two small, ripe pears and spread over the mozzarella. Dot the pizza with a few ounces of Gorgonzola (to taste, really). Brush the pizza crust with a bit of olive oil. Bake until the crust is golden brown. Allow the pizza to cool for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges and devouring.
This was my favorite pizza. Cheesy and a bit sweet but with nice earthy, salty contrast from the Gorgonzola. It paired beautifully with both Grüners!
The second night we prepared a mozzarella, pear and proscuitto pizza which was almost as delicious as the pear and Gorgonzola pizza. I topped the pizza dough with mozzarella and sliced pears then added a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and followed with 5 ozs of thinly sliced proscuitto. Same baking instructions.
This pizza was less cheesy, more meaty, savory and salty. It was a delicious pairing with both Gruëners as well, but the mineral character of the Jäger Grüner Veltliner paired slightly better.
So, our pair of pear pairings was a complete success. Thanks, Martin, for encouraging us to explore Grüner Veltliner. We learned that we really enjoy the flavor s of Grüner Veltliner and that the variety is very food friendly.
We hope you’ll join us for our exploration of Grüner Veltliner in the glass and at the table. Our posts will all go live in the wee hours of Saturday morning, September 10th. Read up and join our chat on Twitter at #WinePW starting at 8 am Pacific Time.
- Michelle of Rockin Red Blog tell us Why You Should be Drinking Grüner Veltliner.
- Jill of L’Occassion recommends we Go Ahead and Say It: Grüner Veltliner
- Camilla, Culinary Adventures with Camilla is dishing- Herbs, Bitter Greens, and Halibut Cheeks with Grüner Veltliner
- Sarah of Curious Cuisinere tempts us with Backhendl (Austrian Fried Chicken) and Grüner Veltliner
- Lori of Dracaena Wines will be sending A Message in a Bottle From Austria
- David of Cooking Chat presents a healthy Kale and Tempeh Curry with Grüner
- Jeff of FoodWineClick asks the question Is Grüner Veltliner Your Next Pizza Wine?
- Lauren of the The Swirling Dervish proclaims Gruner Veltliner: A Lot Easier to Drink than It is to Say
- Cindy of Grape Experiences recommends we Wine and Dine: Gruner Veltliner and Salmon Teriyaki with Garlic Baby Potatoes
- Jade of Tasting Pour serves up Shrimp and Corn Soup with Gruner Veltlner
- Wendy of A Day In The Life On The Farm presents Germany collides with Asia for #WinePW
- Julie of Wine N Friends proffers an Emotional Connection with Grüner Veltliner
- Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will be offering A Taste of Grüner Veltliner; Old World and New World
Click here for a list of past and future Wine Pairing Weekend events!