While the days of summer may be numbered, the heat is sticking around, and as we head into the long Labor Day weekend, I’m thinking of fresh, interesting, and affordable white wines that are easy to drink on their own but pair well with a variety of foods.
One that stands out is from Austria, Berger’s 2017 Grüner Veltliner. This wine has been around for some years now, and it never fails to impress me. It’s one of my top choices for everyday drinking in the $12 to $15 range. What makes it an even better value is that it comes in a one-liter bottle, meaning that you get a good deal more wine than in a standard 750-milliliter bottle.
With the larger bottle (not uncommon in lower-priced Austrian wines), you might be tempted to dismiss it as a utilitarian crowd pleaser. That would be wrong. The wine is estate-bottled by Erich Berger, who uses organic methods and produces a range of wines at his property in the Kremstal region of Lower Austria.
Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s signature white grape (and the country’s most planted variety), and Berger’s GV, as Grüner is known, is about as far from generic as you’ll find in a bottle at this price. The nose reveals the pretty, ripe fruit of a strong vintage — green apple and tropical fruit, with touches of wet stone and saline.
This un-oaked wine is delightfully crisp on the palate, with more green apple (and skins), white flowers, honeysuckle, a touch of grapefruit, and more than a hint of the white pepper that GV is known for. That’s good complexity, and remember, we’re talking about $12 wine here.
This is not a wine to put away to see what it reveals in the years to come (as are some of the best Grüners and Austrian Rieslings). It’s basically all there, right now, to be enjoyed in these last dog days of summer and, for my money, just about any time.