Fri 16 May 2008
See if you can guess what wines are being considered in these reviews in the Wine Spectator, the issue of May 31.
* “Intense, with concentrated flavors of ripe pear, baked apple and apricot. Finishes with lemon curd and meringue.” Score: 90.
* “Muscular …, with rich, concentrated quince, peach, ruby grapefruit, guava and mango flavors.” Score: 94
* “Intense, with concentrated flavors of ripe peach, baked apple, apricot and spice. The long finish features lemon curd, spice and meringue.” Score: 90.
* “Full-throttle ….. Spicy and rich, with concentrated tropical fruit, glazed apricot and grapefruit flavors. Long, smoky finish, with plenty of creamy notes.” Score: 92.
* “Rich, ripe and exotic, with loads of mango, pineapple, ripe peach and guava. Viscous, with powerful, spicy notes that carry through to the long finish with plenty of hazelnut cream.” Score: 94.
* “A ripe, full-bore style, with golden raisin, baked peach, cream and spice. Shows lots of tropical fruit notes as well, including mango and guava. The rich finish features nutmeg and creme fraiche.” Score: 93
* ” … aromas and flavors of white chocolate, ripe apple, white pepper and grapefruit… The juicy finish is long, with hints or meringue and butterscotch.” Score: 93.
I know what you’re thinking: “FK, this is too easy. These are obviously reviews of huge, super-ripe, dessert-like, over-blown, over-oaked, malolactic chardonnays from California, the kind of chardonnay that the Spectator seems to adore but that millions of right-thinking men, women and children in America cannot abide.”
No, friends, the wines given such ecstatic reviews here are not super-ripe, over-oaked, tropical chardonnays from California. They’re super-ripe, over-oaked, tropical grüner veltliner wines from Austria.
American wine drinkers had no more gotten used to the fact that the grüner veltliner (“grooner veltleener”) grape produces (or can produce) eminently refreshing, crisp delightful white wines that open to charming intimations of dried herbs (often with hints of celery and tarragon) and nose-tickling touches of white pepper, with scintillating acidity and a pronounced mineral element than producers of these wines decided that letting the grape do its job wasn’t enough. No, now they have to pump up the ripeness of the grapes and deploy every manipulative trick in the winemaker’s arsenal to infuse their wines with a sheen of artificial significance and trumped-up glamor, intended, no doubt, for some mythical “American palate.” It’s true that grüner veltliner wines can attain a smooth, subtle honeyed quality, but that may occur naturally through bottle aging.
Meringue and butterscotch? Hazelnut cream and guava? Bad chard, meet bad grüner.