Teutonic Showdown & Bad Comparisons
Berger Gruner Veltliner 2007, Kremstal Austria, about 12 dollars us
Ecker Gruner Veltliner 2007, Kamptal Austria, about 12 dollars us
i am always surprised at why more wine makers haven’t adopted the liter bottle for some of their lighter wines. Sure they don’t always have the classic look, and they won’t fit in most wine racks, but the assumption is that a liter is going to be drunk quickly. Without the attractiveness liter size i may not have found out about Gruner Veltiner at all (which is one of the few wines to make use of this handy size). Luckily a bottle of which was recommended by a local wine merchant for a more than reasonable price even for a standard bottle, but a “well, shit yeah” price for a liter.
Given the current economic climate and tense mood in the air (sorry for the bad cliche) i am reminded of Carol Reed’s seminal 1949 film The Third Man (you thought i was going to talk about values didn’t i), set in Vienna after WWII. Of course if it’s going to be Vienna, it’s going to be Gruner, and if times are uncertain, it’s going to be a liter (sounds like a Gruner council slogan contest loser).
Now if you’ll allow me to belabor the comparison between The Third Man and the wines i’m drinking a bit more, the Ecker would be Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) and the Berger would be Harry Lime (Orson Welles). In the film Holly Martins is a stand up guy, always there when needed, smart, but not suave or intellectual. As a wine the Ecker is much the same way, it stands up and is all there without swinging for the fences or trying to impress. There is some light citrus and stone notes, and a crisp acidity that could go with some light squash soup. This is in contrast to the presence of Harry Lime, who shows up late in The Third Man to steal the whole show. Suave, worldly, and amoral, harry serves as one of the best twists in cinema history. Likewise the Berger is a big surprise, coming out of nowhere to stand up to wines double the price. Whereas the Ecker is merely a good wine, the Berger is interesting, with stone, spiced honey, citrus, and best of all a light vegetative/hay/wildflower nose with a crisp acidic vegetable palate. This is the perfect first course (presuming you do vegetables first) wine, perhaps with some strong braised raddichio or sauteed chard.
so in the end, unlike Harry Lime, the Berger is the clear-cut winner here, but it is hard to not recommend the Ecker if you can find it, it is still an incredibly drinkable wine. Note: Both wines come from the amazing import book of Terry Theise
What to eat: Rich squash vegetables or potatoes for the Ecker, serious, bitter vegetables or a dense thoughtful salad (one of those salads that seems to be more than just a salad, but while maintaining that they are just a salad).
What to listen to: Of course you should listen to The Third Man soundtrack, since i’m already beating that to death.
Where to buy: Berger, still looking for the Ecker.
Note: Someday i will do a red/white austrian showdown, and i can use the cinematography of The Third Man a template.