On the heels of my last piece about Wild Horse Winery’s experiments with exotic grape varieties, we have a Grüner Veltliner from California. Most purists feel that Grüner should stay in Austria, and Austria should avoid the international grapes you find everywhere – Chardonnay, Cabernet, etc.
While I agree that traditional winemaking regions are better off using the grape varieties with which they have long and good track records, California is not among them. Winemaking in the US is still in a relatively nascent stage. There could be many grapes perfectly suited to growing regions in the United States if only they were considered. I am also not saying that California is a better place to grow Grüner than Austria. I’m only discussing this one particular wine from this one particular region.
Darcie Kent’s 2011 Grüner Veltliner is grown on Rava’s Blackjack Vineyard, which is on a hillside overlooking the valley floor in Monterey County. This vineyard benefits from brisk coastal breezes and lots of fog. Pinot Noir does well here, too.
Since this is one of the few Californian Grüner Veltliners on the market, I can’t make a comparison with, say, a Grüner grown in Napa Valley or the Santa Lucia Highlands.
According to Kerry Kirkham in Winesandwines.com, the Grape Crush Report from the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service shows that California processors didn’t crush any Grüner Veltliner in 2008.
In 2009 we began to see the grape in California, but as a percentage of the total amount, production continues to be negligible. In Austria, on the other hand, the grape represents one-third of total production.
This particular wine has aromas of peaches and tangerines followed by a whiff of gunpowder. It is very glycerol on the palate. Flavors of fruits follow nose. The acid level is closer to an Alsatian Pinot Blanc than an Austrian Grüner. It is a very refreshing and enjoyable aperitif.
This wine is available for $15 at Bowery & Vine, 269 Bowery, NYC, 212-941-7943.