Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gruner Schmooner

Once again my lack of appointment book, and desire to actually get one, found me cringing when a supplier stood in all his tall, and quite handsome, glory in front of me, big, not too shinny grin on his olive colored face, young man at his side with his arm extended in my direction, tight fitting clothing and firm confidence assuring me he wasn’t from around these parts. I heard my coworker Andy ask, “You here to see me?” while scrolling through the appointment book he has on his iphone, (now there’s an idea….one that I shan’t use) slightly panicked and embarrassed look on his face. “Nope, we’re here to see Sam” Oh goddamn it.

“It’s nice to meet you and yes, I am just 21 years old” the first words I heard from the slightly freckle-faced and virile young man that was shaking my hand fairly aggressively. His name Alexander Sattler, his age as he pointed out, (and yes, I would have asked as he looked like a baby) merely 21 years but he had been involved with winemaking at his family’s estate since he was 14. I made my way to the tasting room, shuffling behind my sales rep and the eager young winemaker, my note book tucked in my recently shook palm, the whole time trying to remember if I even had an appointment with this rep and noting to myself that the young man didn’t sound or look terribly French. I flipped open my notebook, grabbed us three wine glasses and settled in.

“As I said, I am 21 so no need to worry” Alexander began as bottles were being pulled from chilled wine bags full of ice packs, his thin fingers grasping a cork and pouring me a glass “my family has been in Styria since the late 1800s but it was my father that really took charge, way before I was born” he said with a beautifully toothy and sheepish grin, “and with determination and listening to the land became a pioneer in our region. He knew Sauvignon Blanc was what we could grow best in the southern region where our vines are planted on very steep slopes” the words rolling off his tongue in perfect English and while there was an accent it was becoming quite clear to me, this young man was not French. “We are the furthest south wine growing region in Austria and that is where Sauvignon Blanc grows far better than Gruner Veltliner” the words still falling off his lips and I began getting my bearings. Okay, not a French tasting appointment, this was an Austrian appointment and…wait, Austrian? And we’re tasting Sauvignon Blanc?! What the Veltliner?!

The Austrian department at The Wine Country has seen several faces. We once had a very eager buyer, well I should say, a very eager sales person, in charge of buying for the tiny region, she was also our German buyer, (which just seemed to make sense as many importers deal with both as well) and one hell of an ass buster. She grew the department, stuffed it full of interesting and geeky wines, wacky reds and rich sexy Gruners that sported price tags often well over $50 a bottle. It was quite the conversion I have to say and there was not a store within 30 miles that could come close to offering the number or scope of wines from Austria that we could. We saw a bump in sales, obviously but…well even that driven woman couldn’t move a bunch of $75 Gruner Veltliner in Long Beach so the second she alerted us she was leaving to work for a German wine importer Randy got out the red price gun and got to slashing. Since then He took over buying for Austria but seeing as he finds very little time in his busy schedule to meet with suppliers, (although I know he must miss it a little, not that Chamber and Rotary meetings aren’t a blast and all…..) he asked me to step in. That meant one thing to the woman that works the front and is privy to all the, “Yes, where can I find__________’s?” cut it some more. I reduced the department to one red, a Zweigelt, in liter bottles that is grapey, fresh and delicious, a Pinot Blanc and a couple affordable Gruners, at least one of those is liters too. Not saying there aren’t great Gruner Veltliners out there, (although I confess to never having my mind blown by one) but I will say that the prices for some won’t be supported by our market so it’s best to just keep it simple. But…..

The Sattler family have become known for their craftsmanship of nature, for letting their land determine what to grow in order to offer the very best and where they are located and for the Sattler’s of the deep south, it’s Sauvignon Blanc that thrives, flourishes and as a store that has a real passion for beautifully constructed white wines, especially those made from the racy and nervy Sauvignon Blanc variety, well I could not possibly be more thrilled that forgetfully ran into young Alexander and the heart-racing wines from his family’s estate.  

2010 Sattlerhof Welshriesling ($19.99)

An ancient variety of white grape, unrelated to the Rhine Riesling so many of us know, this crisp white is loaded with fresh green notes and has none of those peachy, floral notes we tend to think of when we think Riesling. Fierce acidity and bright saline flavors are all over this exciting refresher of a white wine. Bring on the shellfish people!

2010 Sattlerhof Sauvignon Blanc Classic ($26.99)

There is this sexy intermingle of tropical and austere that some of the greatest producers in the Loire Valley can coax from Sauvignon Blanc, folks like Crochet and Dagueneau and it was those wines that I flashed upon when I stuck my nose in this glass of wine. Ripe guava, cold white rocks, flecks of lemon rind and the fleshiness of grapefruit all in one lip-smacking glass? Yeah, sign me up for another long, deep pour. Something here reminds me of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc way back when, serious, firm, ripe but tongue gripping….perfect. Look out Sancerre.

2009 Sattlerhof Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc ($46.99)

The Kranachberg vineyard is the last picked, or latest harvested by Sattlerhof. They like to let the fruit get as ripe as possible, draw from the limestone rich soils and feed on the royalty of this particular slice of land that imparts upon the finish wine a mind-bending texture, enormous length, and layer upon layer of dumbfounding complexity. Anyone that thinks Sauvignon Blanc is not a noble variety has never tasted this Kranachberg Sauvignon Blanc from Sattlerhof, period. Herbs, citrus, minerals, salted pineapple, oyster shells, pink salt, basil oil and with a round, curvy texture that slowly splashes around the mouth, taking over just before finishing all fresh and vibrant, leaving the palate both worked over and wanting more. Too pricy for Sauvignon Blanc, that’s okay there were only like 10 6 packs brought to the west coast and I was only able to nab one so…


Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
When Gruner first became the Sommelier "It" grape, I really hoped I would taste one that rocked my wine world. Never happened. I feel much the same way about Pinot Gris, though a few in Alsace come close. It's not that others are wrong, God knows Terry Theise isn't wrong, those are simply not wines that speak to me on an emotional level.

And you had me at Gruner Schmooner, which I was pretty sure was a clone. Mainly because I really like Cabernet Schmooner.

I love you!

Romes said...

Cheater... I read the newsletter this month (which I rarely do cause I forget), seems like I may have read this before? I still love you, but newsletter voice is not your normal sans dosage voice... and frankly, these days I really miss your voice and long to hear it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
You haven't truly lived until you've had a glass of Cabernet Schmooner. Super soft acidity and the longest Epoissesian finish. Yum.

You and I don't always agree on wine but I think we sort of see eye-to-eye on Gruner, although I think I hate it less than you do. I can see liters of the stuff that sell for around $15 as a summer sipper or easy drinking, salad course kind of wine. That makes okay sense, I guess although I think for myself I would rather drink some Vermentino, Vernaccia, Rueda or even a softer acid Touraine, but the stuff that is like $30 and up....all I can think of, when thinking on a world stage of wines in that price range is, "Fuck you". Never got the massive woody everyone else did over those wines and now that the public has worked their way through the hot air it seems that they too agree with us, cheap is perfectly suitable, if you're into those green flavors but the high end stuff is better served with those rich cats that read about taste and don't necessarily have so much of their own. My $70 is better spent on the Meursaults, Mount Edens and Dagueneaus of the world.

Yup, you read part of this in the current Wine Country newsletter, extended here a bit with some strokes of my blog voice. Sure it's a bit of a cheat but there were two reasons, one is I do in fact want people to try/taste and know about those wines. They are that cool and I get off on sharing new stuff with people as you know. The second reason, and I'll be frank here, just don't feel like anyone is listening to me anymore and I am starting to feel a little breathless as it were....why write if no one is listening right? Unlike Ron I don't do it for the act of joy of the work as much as for the sharing of when there feel like there is no one here to take the bites, of me, I'm offering I just go quiet. And draw goofy flowers it turns out! So you win, I cheated but you people are making me lonely over here!!

Chris said...

I'm listening.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well that's nice to hear lady. Thank you.

Winey The Elder said...

Dear Ms Bliss,

I too am listening and definitely HEARD you on these wines and will now assertively seek them out. Curious: why do you think that there's "no one here to take the bites"? What would that feel like to you? I can obviously only speak with my own voice, but I hang on your every word, savor them long and slow, patiently waiting for... the tease, the taste, the tempo, the thrust, that tightly twines my fingers with yours and takes me places.... that cannot be spoken, only stirred. The keyboard: the wet spot.

So, yes, I do not always reply to your posts. I do not want to sully your prose with solipsistic pap. You deserve better than that from me, and take a bite of you my love? Oh if you only knew....

Unabashedly your fan.

webb said...

Sounds right up my alley. Wonder if anyone in these parts has some. Worth a look. thanks for the info!

Samantha Dugan said...

Not sure who might have these wines on your coast but I would certainly seek them out. Gloriously crisp and intriguing wines.

Winey My Dear,
You mean to tell me you not only read my silly prose here but you read the comments enough to catch me feeling all lonely and unwanted and stuff? Sort of feeling my cheeks go pink right about now...

I think giving up checking my stat counter has proved to be both a blessing and a curse. I am blessed to rid myself of that obsessive checking and rechecking which actually only leads to me wondering why people aren't commenting and in turn feeling foolish, or that my posts are falling flat. Cursed to be left in wonder, not knowing if anyone is reading at all, again relying on comments to reassure me they are, or are not. Crazy cycle of not really winning no?! No wonder I'm all neurotic and shy and stuff. Knowing you are here with me, reading and partaking of the tiny bites, well that love is very, settling. So thank you my gentle man, for everything.

Thomas said...

Those wines do sound wonderful. I wonder if they are in New York.

..and guys, Cabernet Shabbernay is even better.

Samantha Dugan said...

Yeah, I'm assuming they would be but if you have an issues let me know, I can always ship them from my shop. They are rather thrilling whites full of tension and thinks you would like them love. Oh and Cabernet Shabbernay is what my mom drank, so passe. Sheesh.

Thomas said...

I'll check them out. Shipping this time of year is not a good idea.