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Conundrum Red Blend 2010
From our very first vintage we were determined to make a dramatically different white-wine blend that would surpass the scope of single-varietal wines. Just as chefs were exploring the fusion of flavors from classic to contemporary, from east to west, often combining savory, spicy, herbal and fruity flavors in one dish, we explored how non-traditional combinations of grape varietals would work together. We wanted each varietal to be distinctive but still complementary to blend as a whole. After experimenting with eleven different white wines, we chose a select few that we consider the 'key ingredients'. For over twenty years we have continued to perfect the fine art of blending a 'conundrum' of varietals together, to create a remarkably complex, yet harmonious symphony of flavors. More recently we adapted the same approach for the Conundrum Red blend creation when we released the first vintage in 2011.
To make each wine even more complex, we take great care in keeping each parcel of fruit separate throughout the entire winemaking process. As a result, when the time comes to blend the wine, we have a lot of diversity in aromas, flavors and textures to work with. That's when the creative juices begin to flow. The proportions of each varietal vary slightly each vintage, as Mother Nature hands us new "ingredients." But our goal is always the same: a highly styled, complex and delicious wine that is excellent as an apéritif and pairs beautifully with the wide-ranging, global dishes we are eating as chefs and home cooks experiment with new, cutting-edge cuisine.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of anyone who loves bright, elegant wines. These food-friendly, cool-climate reds and whites are quintessentially European in style with racy acidity, moderate alcohol, and tart, fresh fruit flavors. Austrian wines are prized for their near-uniform dedication to excellence, and it is now difficult to find a bad bottle.
Rather than joining in on the worldwide trend to plant international varieties, Austria has chosen to stake its reputation mainly on its native grapes. Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and vegetal and peppery aromatics, is the most important, comprising nearly a third of Austrian wines. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Unlike their German counterparts, Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry, with higher alcohol, slightly lower acidity, and flavors that lean more toward the citrus end of the fruit spectrum. Field blends of these two grapes along with Pinot Blanc and other white varieties known as Gemischter Satz are popular for daily consumption in Vienna. Red wines include light, tart-fruited Zweigelt, juicy and spicy Blaufränkisch, and Pinot-Noir-like Saint Laurent.
Difficult to pronounce yet delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important white grape. It became trendy among America’s wine elite in the mid-twenty first century, and has since proven itself to be more than just a fad, becoming a mainstay on the shelves of wine shops and the pages of restaurant wine lists for those who enjoy a crisp and refreshing yet serious white wine. Grüner Veltliner performs well in cool climates, and is gaining ground in chillier pockets of California and New York’s Finger Lakes.
In the Glass
Crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity, Grüner Veltliner is marked by telltale notes of white pepper and a slight vegetal quality reminiscent of green beans, as well as a streak of minerality. When less ripe, it leans toward the lemon/lime end of the fruit spectrum, while additional hangtime at harvest can lend notes of pink grapefruit and even stone fruit. A hint of spritz on the palate is not unusual.
Grüner Veltliner is a wonderfully versatile wine—it can pair with just about any lighter fare, from seafood to poultry to complex salads. It even works with spicy foods, and can be a classic pairing with Asian dishes.
When it comes to foods that are notoriously difficult to pair, Grüner Veltliner has been known to step in and save the day. The sulfur compounds naturally present in asparagus can imbue a wine with a highly unpleasant metallic taste, while artichokes’ cynarin compound typically cause the taste of a wine to turn unpalatably sweet. Grüner Veltliner not only manages to avoid these issues, but actually serves to complement these foods with its sharp, pungent, vegetal flavors.