- 2015 Tangent Paragon Vineyard, Albariño, Edna Valley (California) ($10.39 @Costco; California)
- 2016 Laurenz V. Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($11.59@Costco; California)
The wine grape harvest started recently here in California, and that is a reminder that summer is in the home stretch. So I thought it might be a good time to highlight a couple of more obscure white wine varieties while the days are still bright and warm and there is still a little more daylight than darkness.
We had to spend a few dollars more than our usual budget of $10 for these two, but were rewarded with a couple of really interesting wines as a result. While we are talking about Costco pricing, a fun little fact that comes in handy is that when the wine prices at Costco don’t end with .99, it means the wines have been discounted. FWIW.
Both of these wines would be delightful as an aperitif served on their own, well-chilled. But they really shine with seafood prepared simply. I am thinking of grilled fish, pan seared shellfish, or the ultimate simple seafood: oysters on the half shell.
Normally I would proceed with some caution with a white wine from the 2015 vintage when most of the wines on the shelf now display the 2016 vintage. But Albariño is known to age fairly well (at least that is true for the ones from Spain and Portugal, where the grape is well-established) so I decided to give this one a try. The fact that it carried a vineyard designation (in this case, Paragon Vineyards) gave me some additional comfort that my wine dollars would be rewarded. They were.
The wine has nice aromas of citrus peels which follow through in the flavors. Additionally, there are faint tastes of a light salinity, which may sound unpleasant but isn’t. Perhaps it is the sea air that pushes into the Edna Valley most evenings. The wine is nicely balanced and vibrant. Again, it has me thinking about oysters…
Another classic wine to pair with seafood is Gruner Veltliner, which is pronounced as you would think: grooner velt-linner. But we people in the wine trade like to shorten it to either “Gruner” or “Gru-V” because that is well, groovy!
Like the aforementioned Albariño, Gruner Veltliner is a grape variety, hence the term “varietal wines” when the bottling is made predominantly (usually 85% or more) from a single grape type.
This wine has a really nice bouquet of apple, pear, citrus and apricot. On the finish you get that fruit salad, but with a dash of typical Gruner spiciness, in this case, notes of white pepper. It has a soft and juicy presentation in the mouth, and a nice fine acidity. This is a really nicely structured wine.
So yes, we said that were notes of salt in the Albariño, and dashes of pepper in the Gru-V. So is it any wonder that these two will go down so well when you’re enjoying a late summer meal at the seashore, or on your own porch or patio.