2013 has now begun in earnest, and for the Wine Rambler that means it is time to start regular service again and write about wine. With our focus on Germany you would naturally expect the first bottle of the year to be of Teutonic origin - but, behold!, it is not. Geographically and linguistically Austria may not be far away, but even if some see the Austrians as Bavarians with charm, the Austrians themselves insist on their independence. Every single screw cap or capsule of Austrian wine says so in proud colours.
So why not pick a German wine as the first in 2013 on this (mostly) German wine blog? Well, first of all because we are not *that* German, but more importantly because of: tradition, quality and availability.
Tradition, well it is a tradition in the making. 2012 on the Wine Rambler begun with another non German wine, a Swiss Humagne Blanche. Maybe we should kick off each year with a wine from another country, just as a reminder that it is always good to try new things in wine. The second reason, and you may have figured this out already, is that I really like this Austrian with the bold screw cap and the more mute label. I first encountered it, and here we come to the point about availability, at a recent event on matching music and wine. Tasting Notes was hosted by Classic FM and Laithwaits Wine - and the wines are still available through their website.
I left the event not entirely certain which music the Veltliner would go with best, but I enjoyed the brief encounter and Laithwaites kindly agreed to provide a proper sample (I prefer to taste wines at home with a little more time). Sadly I have to report that the question of the ideal music match remains unresolved: Tasting Notes suggest the perhaps overused "Blue Danube"; yours truly considered a Haydn string quartet but a classically trained musician friend has questioned that choice too recently. For my tasting the Danaris was eventually paired with a Wiener Schnitzel and an episode of MasterChef. You might have to find your own match for it.
Whatever you pair it with, expect a charming wine - it evaporated from my glass much faster than I liked. The Grüner Veltliner feels very clean and refreshing, driven by lovely citrus, lime and apple notes spiced with grass, herbal and flowery aromas, a touch of mineral and a noticeable but well integrated acidity. Lemon and mineral are more prominent in the bouquet, apple and lime on the tonque - a touch of spice is everywhere. I really like the sequence of a very clean mid-palate sensation followed by a somewhat sharper, more flavoursome finish.
To summarise, a very neat wine that captures the essence of Grüner Veltliner, is well balanced, does not overcomplicate things but instead delivers on charm, freshness and enjoyment. You can get cheaper Veltliner (Danaris £9.99 per bottle), but I have yet to find one in the UK that offers better value. I am painfully aware that some of the very exciting German wines we write about can be a hard to find abroad, but not this one. Go and get some!