Wine Review: 2006 Brundlmayer Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang Gruner Veltliner

11 04 2011

GruVee name, groovy wine.

Time for a departure here on PnP:  a white wine that isn’t a Riesling.  Don’t adjust your set, because we haven’t gone that far afield from Germany, Riesling’s ancestral home; we’ve just moved slightly southeast into Austria to look at a prime example of that country’s national grape, Gruner Veltliner.  If you’ve never heard of this varietal before, take note:  not only does it have the coolest grape name in the entire world (“Gruner Veltliner” sounds like a luxury airline) with the best nickname (GruVee — no, I didn’t make that up), but it also has a wild and wacky flavour profile that will leave you (and tonight left me) scrambling for adjectives trying to define it.  It makes tremendously interesting and unique wine that isn’t as delicate as some whites and that drinks well alone or with food, and it’s my suggestion if you’re looking to colour a little out of the lines of the Cabernet/Chardonnay book.  Since Austria isn’t as well-established a wine region as France, Italy, Spain, etc., you can find some great, complex Gruners at excellent prices, like this one, a single-vineyard GV from arguably the best producer of the grape in the country, which I got at Highlander in Marda Loop for under $30.

The good news about Austrian wine is that many of the rules about deciphering German wine labels that I discussed hereapply equally to their Austrian counterparts.  Looking at the label to the left, the producer is Brundlmayer (the word “Weingut” means “wine-growing estate”, so you know the next word(s) will be the producer’s name), the grape is Gruner Veltliner, and the vintage is 2006.  The Two-Word “Er” Rule applies to tell us that the words “Langenloiser Berg-Vogelsang” refer to the name of the vineyard where the grapes were grown (Berg-Vogelsang) and its closest town (Langenlois).  Finally, at the bottom of the label, you see three words:  Trocken, Kamptal, and Osterreich.  “Trocken” means “dry” and tells us that this wine won’t be at all sweet; “Kamptal” is the wine region in northwest Austria from which the wine originates; and “Osterreich” is Austrian for “Austria”.  Once again, a wealth of info on a single label!

Cork Rating: 8/10 (As cool as the wine within.)

Deciphering the label is the easy part; the hard part is describing what this wine is like, because the usual descriptors don’t quite get the job done here.  As you can see in the picture, the GruVee has a deep straw colour, but that’s where normal wine words stop doing it justice.  There wasn’t a lot of fruit on the nose — maybe a touch of lemon, but that’s it.  Instead I got a bizarre mixture of rubber, pencil erasers (the pink kind on the tip of a pencil), petroleum jelly, linament, Band-Aids and bath salts.  Even more bizarre was that this concoction of aromas didn’t smell half bad!  The rubbery, medicinal, mineral notes continued during tasting, mixed with some emerging fruit notes of pineapple, citrus and even banana and finishing with a hit of spice and pepper.  However, the true stars of the show on the palate were the wine’s tart, tangy, lip-smacking acidity and its silky, viscous mouthfeel, a phenomenal combination that you don’t often see together:  high-acid wines tend to be light-bodied and thinner, whereas wines with a bit of weight in the mouth aren’t usually as zingy.  This had both features, making it medium-bodied, smooth, clean, and eminently interesting.

This may not be a relaxing, patio-sipping wine, but it has layer upon layer of mysterious and intriguing flavour and is a white wine experience unlike any other.  For a departure from the tried and true, this is about as fun as it gets.  Band-Aids!  Erasers!  GruVee!  Who can’t get psyched about that?

89 points

$25 to $30 CDN

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