Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is a Spicy Gruner Veltliner? 2008 Graf Hardegg vom Schloss!

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine who happens to be a Gruner Veltiner fan, and that's putting it lightly. She's in the wine industry and has sent me some samples before, notably the Grooner and Zvy-gelt wines I reviewed. Our conversation revolved around the subject of a "spicy" Gruner and what that would be like. She, having tasted much more Austrian wine than I probably ever will, was very enthusiastic about Gruner Veltliner produced in this style. Right before Thanksgiving, a sample found it's way (via FedEx) to my wine fridge and a few week later, I was impatient enough to open this Graf Hardegg 2008 vom Schloss over a meal of spicy orange chicken and rice.

First, a bit of background by way of my impersonation of a wine PR person: "This 100% Gruner Veltliner was hand harvested in the fall of 2008, then spent 25 days fermenting in 75% stainless steel and 25% new oak barrels. After bottling in April 2009, the vom Schloss spent some time settling in the bottle before it was unleashed on the Gruner-loving world"

That's all in good fun of course, but now you do have some (relevant?) information about what I tasted. Remember that this is an example of a "spicy" Gruner, as per my Austrian-wine-loving-also-in-the-industry-friend. If you're still reading this blog, the good stuff starts right now.

After being removed from my 54 degree (but of course!) wine fridge and being poured into a glass (did you think I'd use a straw?) I was about to see what the fuss is about. That fuss turned out to be pretty damn legitimate, at least in this blogger's opinion.

If Chanel produced a perfume with peach notes and floral aromas, subtle oak and a bit of a wet-stone smell, that's what the 2008 Graf Hardegg vom Schloss would smell like. What a nose! Absolutely beautiful, the aromas caught my attention right away. I hit on the white peach and wet-stone immediately, because those two scents don't necessarily go together. In this case though, there was no clash or discord, just harmony.

As I sipped the wine, that spicy sensation was present, I liken it to a burst of fresh green jalapeno pepper, and lime juice. The acidity was tempered by the added fleshy mid-palate that oak barrels can introduce, a very, very nice touch. The vom Schloss coats your palate while at the same time teasing the edges of your tongue with fresh peach, minerals and bright citrus. Clean, compact, and effortless finish, I was left waiting for the next sip.

Impressive wine, considering the SRP of $20, just another example of why Austrian wines deliver a quality to price ratio that is among the best out there. I was able to find the 2008 Graf Hardegg vom Schloss for as low as $12 on the internet, do your research! One of the rare times I've awarded and A- to a wine and a STRONG BUY recommendation. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle or two, even in the winter weather a lot of you are experiencing, this is a delicious sipper to keep around the house.

As for the pairing, a success. The citrus elements of the chicken played off against the spice and white peach flavors in the wine, while the mid palate body of the gruner helped restrain some of the spicy flavors in the dish. Unfortunately I was out of wine by the time dessert came around, because I really wanted to taste it with the mango mochi I had. Next time!

This wine was a sample sent for review purposes.

Beau Carufel


  1. Great write up! The more I'm exposed to this stuff, the more I realize I need to get my hands on more Austrian wine. I had an FX Pichler a few weeks ago that blew my mind with full on cigar tobacco notes on a white wine! Wild!

  2. I couldn't agree more, I am getting more and more into Austrian wines from reds to whites to dessert wines. Now I want to get my hands on some Austrian sparkling wines to taste.