Austria's most widely planted grape variety produces one of my favorite summer wines, which is great on its own but remarkably versatile when it comes to food pairings. It is also a grape that produces a diverse variety of styles. When the yields are high, the result is an eminently drinkable and completely refreshing bargain. Keeping those yields down results in a wine with more intensity and worthy of aging for at least a year or two. This week, we had a tie for third place. The winners include Gruners in both styles. Here are the panel's favorites:
2008 Berger Gruner Veltliner, $11.99
Smooth citrus aromas dominate but there are nice touches of mineral, clover, spice and berry. That citrus comes through on the light and refreshing palate along with layers of soft spice, sweet apple and fresh garden greens. It comes in a full liter bottle, which gives you a third more and makes this a great buy.
2007 Lois Gruner Veltliner, 14.99
The honeydew melon and quince aromas are bright and bold and mingle nicely with touches of spice, lemon zest and sweet pea. Round, ripe fruit distinguishes the palate that is both intense and zesty with flavors that include lime, blood orange, melon and spice. The finish is crisp and lively in this exceptionally appealing wine.
2006 Nigl Kremser Freiheit Gruner Veltliner, $15.49
Easily the most complex of the quartet, showing what a bit of bottle age can do for the right Gruner. The deep floral aromas are filled with ripe melon, plum, clover blossoms, herb and orange zest. A rich and creamy mouthful of ripe fruit (peach and lime) shows remarkable persistence and is nicely balanced by good acidity throughout. This is a great value for a wine of this quality.
2007 Der Pollerhof Gruner Veltliner, $14.49
Beautifully aromatic offering a nice mix of ripe apple, creamy tangerine, sweet lemon and lime. A richly textured Gruner with supple flavors reminiscent of silky pie crust wrapped around a spicy core of apple, melon and citrus. Lightly sweet fruit and fresh herbs mark the long finish. Like the Berger, this comes in a liter, which brings the price down below $11 per regularly sized bottle.
This week's panel: David Kirkpatrick, Boise Co-op Wine Shop; Cindy Limber, Bardenay; Karen McMillin, Young's Market; Michael Molinengo, Idaho Wine Merchant; Kevin Settles, Bardenay.