By Bidisha Bagchi
St Joseph, Michigan, USA
The Austrian adage, "Why drink fruit when we can drink rocks?” does not necessarily mean that ‘rocks’ are a part of their diet. It refers to the strong mineral aroma of the wines that Austria produces.
Grüner Veltliner is a late ripening variety that produces wines that are pale green in colour and display fruit notes of grapefruits, limes, pears, and sometimes hints of white pepper. The strong acid content in the wines enables the best bottles to age gracefully.
It is Austria’s own white variety accounting for 37 percent of the country's total vineyard area on the steep and sunny hillsides preening in the mellow sunshine as they had since the Middle Ages when terraces were built on every suitable slope.
The pathways of the stony vineyards are the specialty of Wachau in lower Austria that grows Gru-Vee. Perfect stone walls are built on the terraced vineyards, the rocks are sorted and laid with gaps as small as possible, allowing the roots of the vines to reach the soil through these gaps and drain easily. Narrow terraces of alluvial soil, rocky brown soil and a combination of brown soil and crystalline rocks are the best soil and rock combination for Grüner Veltliner.
Gru-Vee, with its distinctive, pungent aroma, an exotic array of fruit, herb and spice flavours with an attractive mineral undertone, makes its wines ideal partners for food, rather a marvelous alternative to the more mainstream white grape varieties.
With Gru-Vee there is hardly any food that doesn’t go. Asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, turnips and scrambled eggs are standard. Its ample fruit and mild acidity and the sweetness factor are perfect for spicy hot foods, white fish either steamed or broiled, but without any fat content, or even as a plain pre-meal aperitif.
Simply put, Grüner Veltliner is that indigenous variety of Austria which can make any one look and feel cool this summer, and if that is desired ……then one should really be sipping Gru-Vee.
This article was first published in China Daily-Shanghai Star