Not All Grüner Veltliners Are Alike

Grüner Veltliner is one of the most planted white grapes in Austria but these wines haven’t gained international renown until recent decades. Many have skipped Grüner in favor of other varietals, whether it be a more robust Chardonnay or higher acid Riesling. Grüner, however, is gaining popularity and along with that popularity comes a host of natural wine producers perfecting the grape outside of Austria.

From the neighboring Czech Republic to coastal Oregon, the unfiltered, unrefined expressions of this grape show how fruit, acid and spice produce young wines with a lot of vibrancy and no oak aging. Given that the examples we offer in the shop are all 30 dollars or less, they are also great values compared to more storied varietals. Though they drink well now, they could definitely age for some years to come.

Milan Nestarec Forks and Knives

Nestarec Forks and Knives 2015

Shake this bottle up when you first open it is to distribute the sediment from this Czech Republic Grüner, made from vines on loess soil at 220 meters above sea level. It is cloudy, pale yellow in the glass with a few very fine bubbles. Upon drinking, it coats the mouth upon first taste but quickly becomes bone dry, reminiscent of a cider, with nice acid and a little bit of citrus sweetness from meyer lemon and pineapple. Especially pleasant is the little bit of herbal bitterness on the end. This is not straightforward for the style but manages to bring apples, acid, citrus fruit and herbs together in perfect kind of harmony. It drinks well the first day but stays just as lively the next!

Schmelzer Grüner Veltliner 2015

Schmelzer Grüner Veltliner 2015

Georg Schmelzer gives us biodynamic Grüner, site certified by Demeter, the only such certifying organization in the world. He grows his wines in various plots around the town of Gols, in the extreme eastern part of Austria, just over an hour outside of Vienna. This wine is straw colored with floral and apple aromas on the nose. It is juicy and stone fruit forward on the first sips, with acidic brightness and tanginess to match. The white pepper spice is also quite prominent on the mid-palette and a medium bodied roundness balances everything things out nicely. Clean and natural wines can coexist, Schmelzer shows us.

(To further taste his offerings, we’d recommend checking out the orange wine that we also have in stock.)

Minimus Grüner Veltliner 2015

Minimus Grüner Veltliner 2015

Johan Vineyards, in Oregon, are situated in one of the coldest valleys in the state, and are hit with frequent morning fogs and blustery winds that the bring in the cool ocean air. Thankfully Grüner is a hardy grape and is able to weather this climatological stress. Like the Schmelzer, this vintage tends toward a more traditional expression of the grape. It is also loaded with stone fruit, generous acid, a lasting minerality throughout. With white pepper and fresh dill as prominent notes, it is also tangy and fresh on your tongue, with a clean and crisp finish that lasts for a while. This version receives eight months aging on lees, which helps accent the unfined and unfiltered characteristics of this wine.

Thanks for reading about some great examples of natural produced Grüners. Join us next week as we move a little closer to home, exploring a red, white and sparkling wine grown and produced domestically!  

A Deep Dive into Penédes, Spain

Penedès is the official wine growing region of Spain located immediately to the southwest of Barcelona proper. It’s perhaps best known for its Cava production, but it also has a bounty of grapes, both red and white, that tend to absorb a mineral-rich clay soil. Selections de la Viña manages to bring some of the best natural wine producers from this part of Catalonia into our shop, showcasing how unfined, unfiltered wines with complex maceration and fermentation processes can capture the essence of both grape and terroir while also captivating our taste buds. From Macabeu to Garrut, there’s something for everyone and every kind of occasion or weather.

Cosmic Vinyaters, Empordà Blanco Via Fora

Còsmic Via Fora Macabeu Semibrisat 2016

On 70 year old wines in Pendès, Còsmic gives us a complex expression of the Macabeu (also known as Macabeo or Viura), which is grown primarily in Rioja, Penedès and the Languedoc. This particular vintage ferments 88% in stainless steel and 12% in oak. A slightly cloudy yellow in color, it is off-dry with medium acid, notes of peach and apricot on the palette that transitions to a medium bodied, grassy finish. At 12% alcohol, we think it’s a lovely balance between fruit, acid, and the terroir of chalky clay soils that the vines are planted on. It’s light enough to be enjoyed on its own on a sunny afternoon but it also has enough weight to be a more contemplative sipper on a night in.

Clos Lentiscus, Perill Noir

Clos Lentiscus Perill Noir 2010

Sumoll is a rare grape varietal from Catalonia, relegated to a few hundred hectares plus additional plots in Australia due to its drought-resistant nature. Known for being very light and best consumed young, Clos Lentiscus manages to do something new with the grape, grown on plots in Penedès dating back to 1938. By aging it for 30 months in amphora and then cellaring it for even longer, he combines the juicy blackberry fruit with a pronounced minerality that captures the Mediterranean terroir. Also featured are earthy, forest floor notes in a long, dry finish, adding a layer of umami. The end result ends up being an immensely vibrant sipper and a surprise favorite, with definite potential to be aged even longer.

Partida Creus Garrut 2016

Partida Creus is one of our most beloved winemakers from Catalonia, and their Garrut (also known as Mourvèdre or Monastrell) is particularly notable. A deep purple in color, this wine sits somewhere between a still wine and Pet Nat with a few soft bubbles in the glass from the natural fermentation. For the 2016 vintage, there is a ton of concentrated red fruits on the first sip along with pronounced minerality. All of this gets interwoven with generous tannins, a little bit of funk, and fresh herbs on a long, mouthwatering finish that isn’t as heavy as classic preparations of this grape. It reminds us of a Lambrusco but with more depth and focus. The only challenge is having enough left to share with friends.

Stay tuned next week for a dive into some unusual examples of Grüner Veltliner from three different countries! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to visit the rest of our site for some of the latest bottles in stock.

Fall Into These Transitional Sippers

I’m not one to believe that certain wines are only for certain seasons. A rosé can be perfect when you’ve had one too many Syrahs in the winter. However, as we move into fall (or try to at least), there are a new crop of wines we wanted to highlight that are perfect for the slightly cooler weather. These choices might span geographic regions, from Oregon to Italy, and grape varietals, from a Pet Nat rosé to an Carbonic Pinot Noir, but one thing they all share are dedicated and careful approaches to winemaking.

St. Reginald Parish: Carbonic Pinot Noir 2016

St. Reginald Parish: Carbonic Pinot Noir 2016

It’s no surprise that Oregon is one of our favorite New World winemaking destinations given that their commitment to experimental winemaking is unrivaled. Enter Andrew Young’s St. Reginald Project and his Carbonic Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. It’s one of the most fruit forward, low tannin Pinot Noirs we’ve encountered with a pronounced herbal Fernet note that adds a welcome earthy complexity. It’s exactly the kind of wine that brought us back to Beaujolais, in the best possible way. Get it while it lasts, as only 75 total cases of this fresh and lively wine are available. Whether it’s a sunny fall afternoon or a rainy day, Oregon is sure to cheer you up.

Chahut et Prodiges, la p'tite Compet'

Domaine Chahut et Prodiges: la p’tite compet’

Gregory Leclerc has only been making wine in the Loire Valley since 2007, though he’s been writing about wine for much longer. On his 6.5 hectare plot in the Amboise hills, Leclerc employs organic farming techniques for five different grape varietals. For this Pet Nat rosé, he uses the slightly out-of-favor Grolleau grape. A deep red hue, with soft bubbles, this is a funky and earthy Pet Nat, driven by yeast, though the fruit also manages to shine through. Most Grolleau today is used in the production of rosés, as the grapes themselves tend not to be too flavorful, but Leclerc’s care shows us an end product that is satisfyingly complex, perfect for a cozy night in, watching Netflix.

Lammidia Rosh 2016

Lammidia: 2016 Rosh

Lammidia is another relatively young vineyard in Abruzzo, Italy, less than 20 miles from the Adriatic sea. Situated at 2000 feet above sea level, the vineyard takes an entirely hands off approach to winemaking. No filtering, no fining, no sulphur, no nonsense. It’s all about the grapes and oh do the grapes show! Their Rosh is 93% Montepulciano with a slight co-fermentation featuring Trebbiano. These are commonly harvested grapes but the result is something unique and incredibly delicious. Juicy red fruits, vibrant acidity but a deep and wild earthiness that dances on your palette. It’s best served chilled to reveal the fine balance between fresh and funk. The naturally occurring bubbles as you swirl the wine in your glass add an extra touch of effervescence that make it hard to resist, no matter the occasion.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment as we sip some dynamic, far flung Spanish wines. In the meantime, check out our Instagram for the latest product updates, tastings and other surprises.

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