Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! Are you feeling burned out from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio? Even white wine enthusiasts can get palate fatigue from drinking the same style over and over, which is why it’s important to branch out and seek a variety of wines to try.

A couple of white wine options to check out for those last days of nice weather and deck grilling are related in some ways to the style of Sauvignon Blanc but they both veer into the earthier side of the flavor spectrum.

Gruner Veltliner is considered a “noble” varietal in Austria and it is not often spotted in Prince Albert so if you’re looking to show off an interesting and new varietal to your wine friends, this is a great bottle to pick up. It comes from a DAC designation called Kamptal, Austria which is recognized internationally for its high-quality wine production.

The Gruner style has an earthy, tangy flavor which is sometimes compared to the flavor of earthy pickles. It might sound strange and if you can’t picture it, you’ll have to try it for yourself to find out. It pairs incredibly well with grilled vegetables or fresh fish on a hot day.

The other grape varietal, Verdejo, is also not often spotted in Prince Albert liquor stores but it makes a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Bright acidity and stone-fruit with a balance of mineral/citrus bitterness gives your palate the “zing” it is craving while backing it up with juicy fruits and the tiniest bit of sweetness (some may find it dry while I found it to be off-dry).

Verdejo hails from an area of Spain called Rueda which also produces a hard to find red called Bobal. Tourist traffic is not high in this region so many people miss out on this delicious white varietal. Typical pairings in Spain include paella, fresh squid and seafood dishes. You don’t have to travel to Spain to get it, grab a bottle right here in PA!

With the last bits of warm weather departing for the year, you might as well get your white wine drinking and deck-lounging in while you can. Soon, most of us will be moving on to heartier reds to warm the body and soul. Here are my wine picks of the week!     

Cuatro Rayas Verdejo 2018: (DO Rueda, Spain). Dry to off-dry white, medium lemon color. Scents of fennel, freshly cut grass, citrus, green apple and pear gently waft from the glass. On the palate, this white is light-bodied with intense flavors of stone-fruit (pear, peach, nectarine), cut grass, citrus fruit, vegetable/plant stems and bitter mineral. Medium-plus acidity gives the wine lift and then the wine transitions into a quick finish of bitter citrus peels and mineral rock. A touch of nutty character comes through which is reminiscent of mustard greens. Slightly flat by itself but performs more admirably with a spot of simple foods like grilled zucchini, fresh salads with arugula and rocket or grilled chicken marinated with Greek dressing. The wine could use a bit more acidity for better balance but the price is great! Good. $15, 13% ABV 

Rabl Gruner Veltliner 2019: (DAC Kamptal, Austria). Dry white wine, pale lemon color with tones of green. The nose is earthy and vegetal with bright spots of lemon citrus, white pepper, wet rocks and riverbed. To the taste, steely mineral and lemon zest leap out first with a tangy zip of medium-plus acidity. The wine is lively and crisp with a light body, limestone rock powder, zesty lime and sweet gravel. As the wine warms slightly, hints of white peach, nectarine and star fruit appear with a long satisfying finish of citrus zest and saline mineral. Excellent balance and crisp, cool flavors. For an elevated pairing, try butter poached langoustine and asparagus on angel-hair pasta with a wisp of lemon foam and capers. Other pairings include scallops, walleye or shellfish. Very good! $32, 12.5% ABV 

Russell Reserve 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon: (Kentucky, USA). Deep gold color. The aroma in the glass is classic bourbon with cinnamon, butterscotch, candy corn, antique furniture wood and polish, toasted pecans, spicy licorice and anise seed. The whisky has a medium weight on the palate with spicy black pepper and licorice notes from the rye content. There are also notes of buttered pecan/cashews, oak wood, vanilla, toasty cinnamon and a nutty component. The alcohol has a bit of burn but only for the first sip or two; once the palate adjusts, this bourbon is smooth and enjoyable. Great balance of spice, alcohol heat and flavors from the corn mash. $70, 45% ABVCheers and thanks for reading!!