By Henry Beylin, Gjelina Group’s Wine + Beverage Director
Why are most fads initiated and perpetuated by our least interesting people?
The wine I'd like to focus on this week is Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Ried Steinsetz. Gruner Veltliner is one of my very favorite grapes for some very basic reasons. It has a unique character and flavor all its own. It has distinct styles and features. It comes from basically only one country, Austria, that focuses much energy and resources into revealing the grape in all its forms but, most importantly, it almost has no equal at the table. It's the greatest wing-man of a wine. It’s not that popular, which I like for selfish reasons, but fail to understand. It had an almost famous moment in the late nineties and early aughts. My first real organized opinion in the world of wine was proclaiming this grape unique and different and bound to become popular and trendy. Well, not so much, and I cannot figure out why. Plenty of inferior stuff has seen the light of day and continues to be overemphasized. Jura wines, anemic roses, weird pet-nats, reds from Galicia, mostly flawed orange wines, very ordinary Italian whites and Olasz riesling - a god forsaken grape that has no relation to the actual riesling, but most central and eastern European producers seem to have one. There are wonderful examples of all of these, by-the-way, but that's not the point. I do think on some level the frame of reference of how to judge wine shifted and folks began to equate different with good, and weird with better. False equivalence. But enough of this; drink what you want.
Schloss Gobelsburg is an abbey and has been making wine since the 12th century. There was a certain curiosity at the estate early on, and the monks worked to make vineyard specific wines (ried means vineyard btw) with identifiable attributes and style. Makes sense. They came from Burgundy. Also, they weren't married and didn’t have kids, so these types of intellectual pursuits became paramount. The range produced by the estate is staggering in its dynamism and quality. Their most elevated wines are some of the best that exist on Earth, in my opinion, anyway. But what's most impressive are the more so-called basic wines like Ried Steinsetz that are precise, specific, usable, affordable and available. It’s also delicious. And that's the point. We should all ask ourselves next time we taste some orange pet-nat that tastes like clay and wet socks.
Gruner Veltliner had a few basic styles. There's the leaner, peppery and brisk version, full of radish and savory green notes, and there's the fuller, broader, legume leaden version that's analog and baroque. The most interesting ones blend these basic styles to some degree. The Gobelsburg Ried Steinsetz is such an example. It's more pepper and bitter green, but some notes of rice porridge and corn broth present themselves. It's straightforward and direct, and reveals itself honestly. Foods that don't go with wine, they go with this wine. Asparagus? Yep. Artichokes? For sure. Broccolini? You get the picture. That's its gift. It knows what the job is, and it does it better than most with dignity, simplicity and confidence. All under the radar. And that's unfortunate. Or maybe it isn't.
Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Ried Steinsetz is currently being served at Gjelina.
Oh yes! Gruner Veltliner is one of my new favorite white wines too. I did a trip on the Danube about 3-4 years ago and GV was a featured wine. I've been trying new ones ever since!