June 2014 Wine Club -- Martinshof Gruner Veltliner, Rose & Zweigelt

“Innovation, Stubbornness, and a bit of Madness.”

Sorry if you’ve heard this before, but my mentor in this biz is a funny, crazy guy from Burgundy. His constant refrain is, if a product was awesome, in some way it was tied to Burgundy. It all comes back to Burgundy.

I think Laurent (for that is his name) must’ve gotten into the head of our featured winemaker, Michael Martin, because the guy is all about the varietals and style of that fabled swath of land. Except, of course, that Michael was born into an Austrian wine family. The seeds were sown, as it were, when his grandfather planted some Pinot Blanc vines long ago. Michael then added some more, and to compliment them, Pinot Noir vines. It may have caused some eye-rolling amongst his neighbors, but he persevered, while at the same time bringing the influence of Burgundy wines (elegance, length, light but focused) to his native Austrian varieties. So it is that his Grüner Veltliner and Zweigelt are fresh and vibrant and in my mind extremely accessible.

Martin hails from the Weinviertel, which encompasses the entire northeastern corner of Austria. He farms 13 hectares of his own, as well as some neighbors' vines. He vinifies all the following wines in large INOX (stainless) tanks.

Wine Producer: Martinshof
Wine Name: Grüner Veltliner
Region: Weinviertel
Varieties: Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner is a grape that, for me, is hard to pin down. I’ve tasted fresh and bright expressions fermented in stainless steel. I’ve also had oaked, over-oaked. It certainly makes a lovely dessert wine. Michael makes his to drink...fresh, light, and perfect for popping on a deck when you’re grilling.

Pairing suggestions: Grilled Lobster

Wine Producer: Martinshof
Wine Name: Rosé
Region: Weinviertel
Varieties: Zweigelt, Pinot Noir

Using some of his Pinot grapes to add some roundness to the palate, Martin crafts this rosé in the traditional “saignee,” or bleeding, method. Serve this with a nice chill on a hot day.

Pairing suggestions: Fresh greens with strawberry and chèvre

Wine Producer: Martinshof
Wine Name: Zweigelt
Region: Weinviertel
Varieties: Zweigelt

Austria’s own answer to Pinot Noir? Zweigelt, to my mind, is like a perfect marriage of Pinot, Gamay, and a little strawberry juice all combined. It’s got everything a great, light red needs, and it can take a chill marvelously...try it!

Pairing suggestions: Burger off the grill