Johannes Zillinger, JZ Velue Grüner Veltliner, 2020
Weinviertel, Niederösterreich, Austria
Ask Johannes about organics, biodynamics and natural winemaking and you'll find out he's not someone who's only recently jumped aboard the bandwagon. He described this style of grape-growing (actually, it's more farming than strictly growing grape vines) and winemaking as essential to who he is. His father, Hans, turned to organic viticulture in the early 80's and when Johannes took over this 350-year-old winery from him, he immediately sought to take the next leap forward with the biodynamic philosophy. His wines are certified Demeter biodynamic and he uses hundreds of biodynamic applications throughout the vineyards including growing his own herbs for tea tinctures to use as treatments. Again, this is a philosophy and mindset, not just something he does for practical business purposes.
Although he's a steadfast natural winemaker, the term low-intervention can be used somewhat interchangeably. The philosophy is guided by the work done in the vineyards and the idea is that if you do great work there, you can let the grapes speak for themselves during the winemaking process.
The Velue line of wines leans a little bit away from the hardcore definition of natural and more into that low-intervention style. Maybe you'd call it a lighter, easier-drinking line that's right on the money for that any day of the week glass. Grapes are foot-stomped and 90% are fermented in stainless steel while the rest is fermented in qvevri, with 3 months of maceration on their skins.
All that said, this is still crazy expressive - as are all of his insanely delicious wines - with that classic Grüner pepperiness alongside fresh yellow apples, hints of hay and straw with a touch of smokiness. Dive a little deeper into this and you'll get white pepper, lots of green herbs and even a little bit of radish. This is a cool climate wine, no question, so the alcohol is low and the acidity slaps. This is just a perfect young Grüner.
Perfect pairings: a warm sunny day; poached white asparagus; roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts; your fave takeout dumplings (or if you're legit in the kitchen, make 'em yourself); basically anything Vietnamese or Thai - but not too spicy; or just a nice chunk of goat cheese and your feelings.