Thursday, March 31, 2011

Austrian Hopler Winery Tasting Produces New Favorites

Here's the favorite, featuring Austria's national
grape: Gruener Veltliner!
Bookmark and Share  Glorious T provided this report from the recent Hopler wine tasting at Stella's Restaurant in Perrysburg. Hopler wines are featured in Bobby Flay's restaurant in New York and Jamie Oliver's restaurant in London. One out of every 10 Austrian wines in the US is exported by Hopler.

I met Ace of Bass and friends at Stella's for the Hopler wine tasting last Monday, and they were already enjoying the fourth wine, so I had some catching up to do.

They were raving about the first wine so I started there and they were right. We are fans of Austria's national grape, and this Gruener Veltliner was exceptional, with a slight white pepper finish. In fact, it was so good I wanted to drink it all night. But, winemaker Christof Hopler was there, all the way from his family's winery along the western banks of Lake Neusiedl in the Austrian province of Burgenland. So it was only proper to try all the wines he had to offer.

Christoff was charming and accommodating, and poured his Riesling next. Many in the crowd enjoyed, but I am not typically a fan of Reisling and found this to be sweet but very acidic. After a couple of sips I found our friend Chris from Heidelberg. He thought I would enjoy the Pinot Noir and he was right. This was pleasant and very drinkable and appealed to our expanding group of friends. The dark red burgundy-colored wine was bursting with red berry flavors and a slight earthiness. This could only be described as simply excellent and a perfect representation of this variety.

We did not know quite what to expect with the Zweigelt. Christof told us it is the most widely planted red variety in Austria. I instantly found a new favorite. This dark ruby red was spicy! Heavy pepper was mixed with the dark cherry and a berry finish. It was magical! We finished the tasting with the lovely Guttenberg Gruener Veltliner, a delightfully slight sweet find. It fits somewhere between a sweet white and ice wine and would be best enjoyed on a hot summer day.

By now it was time to choose selections to take home, and since I had been busy chatting I missed out on the Gruener Veltliner as it had sold out early in the tasting. Chris said the Hopler wines are now available at Stella's of course, as well as Anderson's and Churchill's. I did purchase the Pinot Noir and the Zweigelt, and Christoff graciously signed both bottles, and chatted happily until the very end and sent me home with a beautiful guidebook on his winery.

Many of these wines, deservedly, have won international awards and Hopler wines are widely available throughout the US. The wines range in price from $14 (Gruener Veltliner) - $21.

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