It’s been a few years now since America discovered Austria’s grüner veltliner wines and promptly fell in love with them.
What makes grüner so attractive is that it doesn’t have the sometimes food-overpowering aromas of other middle European grapes such as riesling, but neither does it have the piercing acidity of many sauvignon blancs, nor the apple-pie roundness of some chardonnays. Instead, it has green fruitiness with balanced acidity which contributes to its food friendliness.
One of the better producers is Pfaffl from the Weinviertel region, and here are notes on five of them, each with its own personality and price, imported by Palm Bay, along with a delightful Pfaffl zweitgelt red.
We are missing the seventh Pfaffl wine and its second red — a 2011 made from the St. Laurent grape — because the sample came in a double magnum (three liters or four standard bottles). I usually am forced to pour samples down the drain after I sip the wine or have more of it with dinner, but I didn’t have the courage to dump almost four bottles. Call me a coward, but I’m saving it for an event where I can share with friends. My report will come later.
2012 Pfaffl "Zeiseneck" Weinviertel grüner veltliner ($10). Green fruits with light spiciness, not lean, however, but fuller and creamier in texture.
2012 Pfaffl "Austrian Pepper" Weinviertel grüner veltliner ($11). Spicy, as the name implies, along with some spritz to enforce it and some savory, dried-spice aspects in the finish.
2011 Pfaffl "Haidviertel” Weinviertel grüner veltliner ($21). Juicy flavors of green fruits, lightly sweet, with notes of citrus, pepper and grape skins.
2011 Pfaffl "Hundsleiten" Weinviertel grüner veltliner reserve ($28). Fermented and aged in wood, which gives the wine depth of flavor and some spicy notes. The fruit flavors are a combo of tart and mellow apples with a touch of fruity citrus and some minerality. Fresh, yet mature.
My Pick of the Litter: 2012 Pfaffl "Hommage" Weinviertel grüner veltliner reserve ($90). Also a wood-dweller, but in this case in acacia barrels, which are traditional to the region. Although there are rich barrel notes, the wine remains fresh with good acidity. The fruit is more citrus than apple, with lemon peel, orange pulp and a little black pepper. Very nice, complex wine.
2011 Pfaffl "Austrian Cherry" Niederosterreich zweigelt ($13). Just a delightful red from the zweigelt grape. It blends the fruitiness of a gamay with the raspy, lean finish and light tannins of a sangiovese. For drinking now.