Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Naked Vine One Hitter – Back to the Big House: Grü-V

Back in August, I wrote about a sample pack I’d received from Big House Wines. Big House, as many of you know, is a widely available, relatively inexpensive wine – often seen in octagonal boxes. As such wine goes, it’s not bad at all.

While perusing the website for additional information, I saw a wine I’d never heard of – a white wine adorned with a caricature of a hippy handing a flower to one of the prison guards. The wine was Big House “Grü-V” Grüner Veltliner.

I make no bones about loving Grüner Veltliner. This Austrian white is a summertime staple of mine. Good Grüner is like drinking happy rocks. Austrian ones are super-minerally with lots of citrus. They’re light bodied and have a particular pepper flavor on the finish. Needless to say, I shot a message to the good folks at Folsom to see what was going on there. Apparently, Grü-V is launching in a limited capacity, so it’s not arrived in many stores yet. Expect to see it during the next year.

What would California’s climate do to Grüner grapes, I wondered. The answer? Create a light, flavorful wine. The nose reminds me of fresh pears and the body is soft and citrusy, rather than lean and almost metallic. There’s some mineral there, but it’s not nearly as strong as the minerality I was used to with the Austrians. The mineral picks up a little bit at the finish with just a hint of that peppery calling card and some peachy flavors.

It is quite drinkable. I would imagine that it would be a very nice everyday wine, especially if you got it in in a large format container. However, it didn’t have the strength of varietal character and complexity that I’d probably go for if I were specifically going after a Grüner. That said, don’t knock this – it’s very decent and, at $10, it’s considerably less expensive than its Austrian counterparts. It’s not a bad wine to pull if you’ve never tried a Grüner Veltliner and you want to get a basic idea of what they’re about – or if you want something simple and a little different.

It also makes a very flexible food wine. Grüner is one of the few wines that can handle odd-flavored curries, asparagus, and the like – and the hint of sweetness in the body of this wine makes it a skeleton key for challenging food pairings. I could see this as a crowd pleaser at a laughter-filled casual meal.

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