This week I had the opportunity to compare an Old World Pinot Gris with a New World. The Old World was a 2013 Domaine Famille Hugel, from Alsace, France, priced at around $21. The alcohol content was a little higher than the standard white at 13.9%. It had a nice light straw color with notes of dried apricots, almonds, minerals and honeysuckle. The finish was smooth and long and I felt it would pair nicely with fowl. The New World was a 2015 Elk Cove Pinot Gris from Gaston, Oregon, priced at around $18 with 13% alcohol. Both the nose and the taste had an overwhelming aroma of honey, perfume and flower notes. I have been a fan of the Elk Cove Pinot Noirs over the years, however I preferred the Hugel Pinot Gris over the Elk Cove. The Elk Cove received some positive reviews from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, nevertheless I felt its overwhelming intensity would make it a challenge to pair with food.
I have sampled a few different Gruner Veltliners lately as part of my class project and one of my favorites is the Hungarian, Floriana 2015, Pannon.
It has a long finish at over 30 seconds, is light straw in color and has notes of pear, lychee and apricot. It is high in acid, has medium fruit notes, low residual sugars, a slight effervescents and low tannins. The alcohol content is 12.5%.
If you're on a budget and want to try a Gruner Veltliner, this is a steal at $6 from Trader Joes.
I have become extremely fond of Gruner Veltliner since I sampled it in my Wines of the World class. It was a real challenge finding a New World Gruner Veltliner. Searching many stores in Phoenix including Total Wine, BevMo, Trader Joes and Costco without success, I finally found it at Whole Foods in Sedona.
My tasting started with the Austrian, Winzer Krems, Kremser Sandgrube 2015 from the lower state of Austria, Niederosterreich. On the back, it was labelled in English as a Dry White Wine, with no Austrian designation. This well balanced wine was 12.5% alcohol with a very pale straw color and extremely effervescent. It felt medium bodied due to the effervescence, with notes of grapefruit, green apple and minerals, and had a long finish at over 35 seconds. At $15 from Total Wine, I felt it was an excellent buy and my favorite of all of the Gruner Veltliners I had sampled so far.
The New World wine was a Habit, 2014 from Santa Ynez Valley, California and was dry farmed. The alcohol content was 13.1%. The color was straw, with a limited nose and had grassy notes, minerals and a little peach upon sampling. The finish fell off at around 20 seconds. It was easy drinking, somewhat balanced with a slight bitter finish but would pair well with most foods. It was pretty lackluster after the Austrian Kremser Sangrube and at $35 per bottle it was too expensive in comparison to the Old World varietals sampled. I’m definitely an Old World Gruner Veltliner lover but look forward to sampling some Willamette Valley and New Zealand selections.
How did green beer become popular? Did you know there is a Green Beer Day?
With St. Patrick’s Day approaching on March 17th, I thought it would be interesting to share a little history on Green Beer. This libation does not originate from the Emerald Isle, but rather from the United States, beginning in the early 1900’s. There is an Irish tradition that if you drop a green clover into someone’s drink it will bring them good luck. Wearing green is also supposed to make you invisible to the leprechauns so you won’t get pinched. One would think that you use green dye to create that luscious color, but actually you use blue dye. When you mix blue and the yellow of the beer together, green appears.
Prior to Spring Break, the students at Miami University in Ohio, celebrate Green Beer Day. This tradition dates back to the 1950’s, though not actually sanctioned by the University and will fall on March 16th of this year. Whether you are flying to Ohio to party or staying here in Sedona and the Verde Valley, I wish you the luck of the Irish and may you find that pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow.
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours. She is studying for her CSW and sommelier certifications.