Austria's answer to Beaujolais Nouveau

Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:15am EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - France has the Eiffel Tower and Burgundy and Beaujolais, while England has Big Ben and its beers and ales, and just as the waltz is wedded to Vienna, Gruner Veltliner is synonymous with Austria.

And in the country known for its music, pastries and old European charm, Lenz Moser is Mr. Gruner Veltliner. He produces five white wines with a telltale hint of white pepper from that single grape variety.

"I wanted to focus on one thing and do it very well," he told Reuters.

"We've been living in this area for 400 years," he referring to the wine growing regions of Lower Austria.

His grandfather, also named Lenz Moser, is credited with creating the modern trellis system still used to grow Gruner Veltliner.

"I was raised next to the vine nursery and my grandfather brought me into the vineyards when I was five," he said.

Back in the 1980s, when a scandal erupted after some vintners were found to have added a chemical found in antifreeze to make their wines sweeter, his family sold their vineyards, the winery with is 1,000 year-old cellar and their name.

Too young to retire and having been life-long friends with the Mondavi family, Moser went to work for them and eventually handled their European portfolio of wines. When Constellation Brands bought Robert Mondavi for about $1 billion in 2005, Moser decided it was time to return to his roots.   Continued...