Danville Express

Living - October 12, 2007

The Wine Guy: 2006 Weingut Felsner Lössterrassen Vineyard Grüner Veltliner (Kremstal, Austria) (Whole Foods - San Ramon, $9.99)

by Gregory Peebles

Austria's Kremstal growing region, located on both the northern and southern sides of the peaceful Danube River surrounding the city of Krems, is primarily dedicated to the production of Grüner Veltliner. Almost 50 percent of the vineyards on this fertile river plain are planted to this white grape. Manfred Felsner's modest 30-acre winery estate calls this picturesque countryside home.

Taking control of the property nearly 20 years ago, Herr Felsner is upgrading viticulture practices, shrinking vineyard yields, and looking to increase the true varietal characteristics and overall quality of the family's Grüner and Riesling. Most of the estate's vines, including those growing on the Lössterrassen vineyard, are over 30 years old. At face value, Weingut Felsner appears to be moving in the right direction.

However, this Grüner doesn't have me leaping in my lederhosen (a scary image, even on my best day!). In short, it's an inconsistent wine.

The color is electric in its radiance. Shimmering shades of gold pierce the glassware.

Aromas are pleasant. Chalky mineral, citrus, bitter almond, dried herb and lanolin notes are immediately evident. A slight suggestion of black pepper appears after several minutes of swirling. Contrary to the wine's back label, which suggests "serve nicely chilled," it's more interesting at just 5 or 10 degrees cooler than room temperature.

It's a wine which stumbles and disappoints in terms of overall flavor intensity and texture. Simplistic layers of green apple, nut, quince and lemon flavors are very tame, even through the wine's lingering finish. The typical angular, peppery tang of quality Grüner is sadly absent due to a considerable lack of acidity. Without acidity - especially in aromatic whites - wine lacks life, vibrancy and feels flabby on the palate.

Should you wish to give Felsner's exotic varietal a try (remember, your palate is the ultimate judge), grill an orange roughy filet or chicken breast, toss a light salad, add a sourdough baguette and dine "al fresco" with family or friends. Delicious food, wine, good company and a temperate East Bay evening in early autumn: Priceless.

Have comments or questions about wine? Gregory Peebles, wine industry professional and East Bay resident, can be contacted at caledoniawine@sbcglobal.net.


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