Thursday, May 21, 2009

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, PART ONE


I recently went to the Palm Bay Imports’ Winemaker Portfolio tasting in Chicago, a terrific event showcasing winemakers from their star-studded portfolio. There were a number of very impressive wines – many that my stores already carry. As per my usual M.O., I opted for not revisiting many of my store favorites, but instead, looking for wines I have yet to try. There were many of those, and while I have a lot to report back on, one producer in particular stuck out, due largely to the fact that they were only one-week old with Palm Bay – Austrian producer Pfaffl, which was being represented by young Roman Pfaffl, son of winemaker Roman Pfaffl (yes, Jr. and Sr.).

Truly a family affair, the two Romans run the operation with mother Adelheid, and younger Roman’s sisters Elisabeth and Heidemarie. The approach to their wines is both modern and traditional, with the 3 single vineyard Gruner Veltliners (the Haidviertel, Hundsleiten and Altenberg) and their excellent St. Laurent, as well as two very unique, more modern releases – the Austrian Pepper (a clean, inexpensive GruVe) and the Austrian Cherry (a fruit-friven Zweigelt – one of Austria’s premier red grapes). The wines overall, showcase the wonderful, clean, racy and vibrant style that is Austrian wine, perfectly balanced and well-built for food pairings. Having just come from a sushi restaurant and these being the first wines tasted at the event, I could see the harmonious coupling of the two vividly.

As I said, these are brand, spanking-new wines for Palm Bay, so look for them sometime in the Fall.

More notes on the way, including some stunning German Rieslings from S.A. Prum, a phenomenal Merlot from Campania that would give an expensive Pomerol a run for its money, something new from Fonterutoli’s Sicilian venture, and breathtaking efforts from Anselmi, San Patrignano, Chile’s Santa Rita, Israel’s Recanati, and much more.

2 comments:

Laurie Tadayon said...

Nice to read about more Austrian wine makers entering the U.S. market. The Pfaffl family may have already told you this, but when the younger Roman inherited the land from his parents the holdings were then a mixture of crops (potatoes, beets, cereals). Vines comprised just 0.75 hectares of the property! As Roman Jr. and his wife shifted the focus to grape growing, the vineyards grew to over 50 hectares.

I'll be in the region of the Pfaffl winery when I travel to Austria this June. I'm going on a trip sponsored by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board. They've contracted my company to engage in a social media marketing project (blogger outreach) as well as an ecommerce component. It's been great learning about Austria and it's many wines. Before I began working on this project I, like many Americans, only knew of a few Austrian varietals. I was impressed to learn about the number of varietals Austria actually produces. For a country of its size, the variety is commendable.

Through this project I've even had the opportunity to attend many Austrian wine tastings and meet with U.S. importers bringing those wines to the U.S. The importers are an enthusiastic group.

I can't wait to watch the popularity of Austrian wines grow in the U.S. (and globally, of course).

Please feel free to contact me via my blog if you'd ever like to discuss Austrian wines further. I also have several Austrian wine-focused posts up.

Great to read your blog and I will be back for more.

Cheers!

Laurie

k2 said...

Laurie,

Thanks for that! I was really excited to meet the younger Roman, but as I said in the post, he was REALLY new to the market, and the crowd was definitely overwhelming so I didn't get to talk to him for any length of time. I love Austrian wine but it is indeed a tough sell. Takes a lot of time to educate a customer base, but in the end it is worth it. We've created a lot of GruVe fans out there in our market, but the work continues. Glad you stopped in. Feel free to come by and comment often.