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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Try Grüner Veltliner To Get Out Of Your Wine Rut

Schloss Gobelsburg Ried Steinsetz 2015, Austria

Cost: $27-29

Everyone gets stuck in a rut sometimes. That can easily happen to wine drinkers because we find something we like and we keep drinking it. There’s nothing wrong with that, except it doesn’t allow for the excitement of new discoveries.

One of the readers of this column thought I was stuck in a rut, reviewing only the standard wines such as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot noir. He challenged me to reach out to other varietals.

The criticism is true to an extent because I think it’s useful for me to review wines people might like. I also am always on the lookout for new wine stories.

Those favorite wines are pretty universal. While it’s mostly true that there is nothing new under the sun in the world of wine, it also is true that winemakers are always experimenting. And it is nice to be reminded of old favorites that we haven’t drunk in a while.

The grüner veltliner from Schloss Gobelsburg is a great example of a grape I had not tried for some time, but a grape that I always love. Many Americans don’t know much about grüner veltliner, probably because the Austrians don’t seem to do much marketing of their wine.

Grüner veltliner is the most planted grape in Austria, accounting for about a third of vine acreage. It also is popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Because both sides of my family come from those East European countries, I have looked for their wines, but seldom find them.

It is likely the only grüner veltliner you will find in wine shops comes from Austria. I have tried many of them and have yet to find a bad one. Some grüner veltliner is planted in other parts of the world, including Australia and the United States. The growers in Australia say they love the grape and continue to plant more. We might be hearing more about grüner on the world stage in the years ahead.

Two others Austrian grüners that I tried recently are Grüner Veltliner von Donabaum 2016 and Leth 2015. All three are excellent, but I thought the Schloss Gobelsburg had the highest quality. It also had the highest price.

The Schloss Gobelsburg wine is a singe vineyard wine, coming from the Steinsetz vineyard in the Kamptal area. The vines average 25 years old.

It is a gorgeous glowing yellow in the glass with inviting spicy aromas. On the palate it is rich with a full mouthfeel. The wine is well-rounded, with good fruit and acidity and a long finish. At the tail end of each sip you get a nice zip of black pepper, characteristic of grüner veltliner.

The wine is given a little more body and weight by spending four months in Austrian oak casks.

Winery: Schloss Gobelsburg is one of the oldest wineries in the Austrian Danube area, dating to its time as a Cistercian monastic estate beginning in 1171. The vineyards are on slopes and terraces around the valley of the river Kamp near the town of Langenlois and the village of Gobelsburg.

The monks of the Zwettle monastery received their fist vineyards in 1171 in Heiligenstein and Gaisberg. The Gobelsburg castle was acquired in 1740.

The property changed hands many times and was even used as a summer youth camp between World Wars I and II. Finally, after World War II and occupation by Soviet troops, Father Bertrand Baumann became manager of Schloss Gobelsburg.

He restored the reputation of the winery and renovated the buildings. Later he served as Abbott of Stift Zwettle from 1980 to 1994 until retiring.

Willi Bründlmayer and Michael Moosbrugger signed a long-term lease for the winery in 1996. Moosbrugger manages the estate and the winery.

The winery specializes in grüner veltliner and riesling, but produces a wide variety of wines, including sparkling wine, pinot noir and sweet wines.

The Schloss Gobelsburg grüner veltliner was a great match for chicken stew with dumplings.

Goes with: We had Schloss Gobelsburg grüner with chicken stew and dumplings, and it was a great pairing. My chicken stew is a lot like my chicken soup, except it is thicker and richer.

I do that by sauteing diced onions and celery with butter. As the vegetables get soft, add a couple of tablespoons of flour and stir constantly. Then add chicken broth, which you can make or buy.

I make two or three batches of the roux until I have enough to handle the amount of broth I will use. Then add broth, cooked chicken, sliced carrots, chopped parsley, thyme and any other seasonings you might want.

The difference in this stew is the dumplings. They are not the usual Southern dumplings you find in chicken and dumplings. I make traditional Czech potato dumplings and then add the stew to them as I serve it. The dumplings are easy to make but take a little time.

Boil 2-3 Russet potatoes for 20 minutes. Peel the potatoes while still hot, discard the peels and push the potatoes through a ricer. Add about two cups of flour and two eggs. Mix it all up until you have a pliable glob of dough.

Pinch off pieces of dough slightly smaller than a tennis ball and roll the dough between your palms. After you get it into a smooth ball, roll the dough out in a log shape. Ideally, each log is about 4-6 inches long and an inch or so in diameter.

Drop each dumpling in pot of boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, cover pot and turn down heat until the water is gently boiling without spilling over the pot. You might have to gently scrape the dumplings from the bottom if they stick to the pot.

After about 10 minutes roll each dumpling over and cook for another 5-6 minutes with the lid on. Carefully remove the dumplings from the pot and put them on a plate. In about 15 minutes they will become firm and ready to eat.

When I was growing up we had these dumplings all the time, usually with sauerkraut, but also with stews such as chicken stew or oxtail stew. One of my happiest moments was when I learned how to make them.

When I served this stew at a church lunch I cut the dumplings into bite-sized pieces and mixed them into the stew. Everyone seemed to enjoy the stew and dumplings.

My pal David said in Nova Scotia they call these dumplings doughboys.

Grüner veltliner is a wonderful food wine, and you can serve it with all kinds of food. In Austria they serve it with beef, game, pork, poultry, and their national dish Wiener schnitzel. It has such good flavor it is even good to sip by itself while you daydream on the porch.

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