March 15, 2006

Grüner Veltliner

The most memorable wine-and-food match I've ever had was a hot dog with an Austrian grüner veltliner. It wasn't so much that the two went together. It was that the grüner veltliner was 35 years old and absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.

The wine's pale color had deepened to a burnished gold, its cold, stony aromas had warmed to a sunny mix of sweet apricots and roasted nuts, and its green flavors had broadened into a dry yet honeyed mix of nuts, earth and baked fruit. And the wine's acidity - its lifeline, its electricity - felt as vibrant as it must have been the day it was bottled.

It's extremely hard to find old grüner veltliner for sale in the U.S., but it's easy to find great veltliner for reasonable prices and age it yourself. The 2004 vintage, which is out now, produced a bevy of wines to choose from - and even the really affordable ones are worth cellaring. For instance: Schloss Gobelsburg Gobelsburger ($13); Nigl Kremser Freiheit ($16); Leth Lagenreserve Steinagrund ($15).

And if you can spring $39 for the Bründlmayer Alte Reben, your grandchildren will thank you in another 40 years.

This review first appeared in the Denver Post.

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