($20): Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s “national” white grape, is capable of making delectable wines. And Nigl has done just that. There’s a hint of white pepper that beautifully offsets subtle peach-like flavors. Potent acidity keeps in bright and lively throughout a meal. The meaty texture of the wine makes it a good choice when grilling swordfish.
89 Michael Apstein May 13, 2014
($12, Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd.): Austria’s primary white grape and wine, Grüner Veltliner has the potential to soar in popularity because it is an ideal choice with a wide range of foods. In the past, I’d advise those in doubt about what wine to serve with a particular food to choose Riesling or Champagne. Now I add Grüner to that list because of its cutting acidity. This one, a fine introduction to the varietal, is perky to point of almost being prickly on the palate. Good density prevents it from being aggressive. This super bright wine will cut through whatever flavors are on the plate.
88 Michael Apstein Apr 30, 2013
($16, Folio Fine Wine Partners): With over a third of Austrian vineyards planted with it, Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s signature grape. Laurenz’s version, dubbed Singing, has a lovely combination of delicate floral notes offset by subtle peppery ones. An alluring restraint and austerity make it a welcome change from the over ripe and overdone white wines that seem to be commonplace today. It’s a good foil for steamed clams or mussels. 88 Michael Apstein Jul 10, 2012
($44, Palm Bay International): St. Laurent, a grape related to Pinot Noir according to DNA profiling, is gaining popularity in Austria. After tasting this splendid example, it’s easy to see why. It’s a harmonious marriage of sweet and savory notes, with even a trace of a bitter cherry finish. There’s plenty of red fruit flavors, but what’s really notable is the way they are nicely offset by alluring earthy notes. Similar to Pinot Noir, this wine delivers more flavor than its mid-weight nature suggests. Fine tannins add class and allow for immediate consumption, although I suspect it will develop even more complexity with cellaring given its balance. That said, it’s a superb match for roast chicken with a mushroom sauce and is hard to resist now. 93 Michael Apstein Nov 8, 2011
($20, Palm Bay Imports): One of the leaders in Weinviertel region, Pfaffl is a family owned estate just outside of Vienna that makes an array of lovely wines. This one, from a single vineyard in the town of Stetten overlooking the Danube, reminds us that Grüner Veltliner, as difficult as it may be to pronounce, is a varietal worth remembering. Fresh and lively, it still has excellent concentration (at only 12% alcohol) and delivers minerality and spice. Clean with a cutting edge, it’s a versatile wine, a good match for spice-filled dishes or something as simple as steamed clams. 91 Michael Apstein Nov 1, 2011
($15, Palm Bay International): One of the leaders in Weinviertel, a subregion of the Niederösterreich, Pfaffl is a family owned estate just outside of Vienna that deserves their fine reputation. This, what they refer to as their “entry level” wine is a stunning example of a bargain-priced Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s signature white grape. It’s a light (11.5% stated alcohol) vibrant wine with good viscosity and spice. A cutting edge makes it a fine choice for any fare from spicy dishes to simply grilled fish. It delivers far more than you’d expect from a $15 wine. 88 Michael Apstein Oct 18, 2011
($17, Select Wines): For those unfamiliar with Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s most widely planted grape, this would be an excellent place to start because Bauer is a top-notch producer and the Rosenberg vineyard is a prime spot. Faintly, but distinctly, aromatic, this Gruner Veltliner is dry with a firm texture combined with subtle citrus notes in the finish. It’s a lovely foil for bass in a cream sauce or chicken breast with a lively red pepper tapenade. 88 Michael Apstein Feb 11, 2011
($50, Skurnik): Heiligenstein, located in the village of Zöbinger, is one of Austria’s most acclaimed vineyards. Bründlmayer is one Austria’s best producers. Combine the two and throw in old vines (Alte Reben) and it’s no surprise about the extraordinary quality and distinctiveness of this wine. Lovely delicate aromatics are followed by a slightly earthy quality. A whiff of stone fruit amplifies its inherent minerality. Citrus notes extend the finish and keep it focused. It has a magical quality of intensity and persistence without heaviness. 95 Michael Apstein Aug 31, 2010
($20, Domaine Select): What’s in the bottle is worth the time to unravel what’s on the bottle, so here goes: Wachau is easy because it’s Austria’s best wine growing area, just west of Vienna on the Danube, and Burgberg’s one of the villages there. Gruner Veltliner is equally easy since it’s Austria’s unique, indigenous, and best-known grape. Federspeil is the style of wine, similar to a Kabinett level German wine, except that it’s a measure of body (extract) not sugar, so it’s dry. (Wines labeled “Smaragd” are richer, those labeled “Steinfeder,” lighter, but still dry). This wine has the body of Chardonnay and the riveting acidity and structure of Riesling, with an enticing minerality and suave texture. Beautifully balanced, it’s versatile, equally compatible with grilled fish or spicy Asian fare. 90 Michael Apstein Aug 11, 2009
($13): Anton Bauer, who took the reins of this family winery in 1992-at the ripe age of 20-is making wonderful white wines, including this one from his Gmork vineyard. Its lovely minerality, balanced by its bright and racy character, makes it best used with a meal as opposed to an aperitif. It would make a great match for roast pork. 86 Michael Apstein Oct 10, 2006
($18): Bauer has managed to combine an engaging fleshiness with a steely frame to fashion a thoroughly enjoyable and balanced Riesling that finishes without a trace of sweetness. Those who shun Riesling believing, erroneously, that it is always sweet, need to try this wine. 90 Michael Apstein Oct 10, 2006