- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hirsch, Gruner Veltliner, Heiligenstein, Kamptal, 2003, $22

Gruner veltliner is a white wine grape native to Austria. At its simplest, it forms that country’s everyday jug wine, a simple, sometimes tart quaff, but at its best, gruner proves wonderfully expressive, with a faintly herbal and overtly peppery aroma, followed by ripe, sometimes even honeyed, pear, citrus and apple[NOTE] fruit cw[NOTE] flavors.

The region of Kamptal, 50 miles or so northwest of Vienna, is home to an increasing number of excellent gruner veltliners. Kamptal’s south-facing vineyards are protected by mountains from cold north winds, enabling the grapes to ripen fully. The resulting wines can taste succulent.

Johannes Hirsch makes some of Kamptal’s finest wines, and he excelled in the difficult [-] because it was searingly hot [-] 2003 vintage. His Heilingstein gruner veltliner displays plenty of rich, ripe fruit flavor, but at the same time it is in excellent balance. It offers this varietal’s trademark whiff of pepper but enhances it with a lingering minerality, so it ends up seeming tantalizing as well as tasty.

Gruner veltliner often pairs nicely with dishes that have some spice or heat in them. (It’s that rare wine that does well with chili peppers.) This one would be a great companion for Thai curry or, switching continents, chicken fajitas. (Imported by Michael Skurnik.)

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