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Vöcal Vineyards Alfaro Gruner Veltliner*Packaging may vary

Vöcal Vineyards Alfaro Gruner Veltliner

Gruner Veltliner / United States, California, Central Coast

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Gruner Veltliner
California, United States
Sweet-Dry Scale
Fruity & Crisp

Product description

Vöcal wines are the brainchild of sommelier/winemaker Ted Glennon, whose mission is to let his vineyard sources do most of the talking. This expression of Grüner Veltliner from the Santa Cruz Mountains is spot-on—right up there with its Austrian contemporaries. One of the things we can’t help but do when evaluating California wines is compare them to their “Old World” exemplars. It’s impossible not to, but it’s a little unfair to the California wines: They’re treated like “cover versions” rather than original compositions. Nevertheless, as we all know, sometimes the covers live up to—or even eclipse—the originals (consider Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” versus Otis Redding’s, or the Napa Cabs of the 1976 “Paris Tasting” versus Bordeaux). Our hats come off today for our friend Ted Glennon of Vöcal Vineyards, whose 2017 “Alfaro Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner does full justice to the Austrian originals while also singing in its own clear, Californian voice. It’s a delicious, invigorating Grüner: spot-on in terms of varietal character and structured like a Smaragd-level wine from the Wachau. Tack on a little California Coast ‘sea-spray’ character and you’ve got a killer cool-climate white to enjoy through the summer and beyond. Along with his collaborator Ian Brand (San Francisco Chronicle “Winemaker of the Year” last year), Ted is a champion of vineyards influenced by the cold, deep Monterey Bay—and he nailed it with this one. The Alfaro Vineyard is at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, about four miles from Monterey Bay. Sitting at 500+-feet elevation and facing southwest, right in the path of the wind and fog whipped up by the Bay, its situation and rocky, sandy soils bear a strong resemblance to the vineyards of Grüner Veltliner’s Austrian homeland. Richard Alfaro was inspired to plant Grüner after falling in love with the variety at a dinner featuring the wines of Wachau (Austria) legend Nikolaihof; at present, his is the only vineyard planted to the grape in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Glennon has had access to Alfaro-grown Grüner since 2014, and while 2017 proved to be a hot, difficult year in parts of the region, the Alfaro Vineyard fared quite well in the end. As Ted explained in his tasting notes, a record heatwave “sadly roasted our beloved Lilo Pinot Noir Vineyard, and caused havoc for many beloved sites. However, our patch of Alfaro's Grüner Veltliner soaked up the heat and developed some incredible flavors and compelling structure.” Vöcal’s Alfaro Vineyard Grüner was fermented and aged in a mixture of used French oak barrels (30%) and stainless steel drums, and it displays a pitch-perfect balance of richness and raciness. In the glass, it’s a bright yellow-gold with flecks of green and silver at the rim, with aromas of tart green apple, Asian pear, citrus, wild herbs, white pepper, and wet stones. Medium-plus in body, with a sunny core of ripe fruit, it finishes with mouthwatering freshness and a salty kick after leaving a big impression on the mid-palate. It is ready to drink now and over the next few years: Simply pull the cork and let it rip at 45-50 degrees; it will make a great partner to a lemony seafood preparation, an herby salad, or really anything fresh and bright you think up. It’s a really evocative, well-made wine—respect!

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