Underwood Mountain: A Tale of Two Washington Grüner Veltliners

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by

decanting white wineVisiting wineries in Woodinville, Washington (about a half hour NE of Seattle) is like a opening bag of potato chips: You just can’t stop at one. I had planned on swinging by W.T. Vintners to check out their new releases and while I was killing time waiting for a friend, why not pop into Savage Grace? Their tasting room is conveniently located next door.

And not only are W.T Vintners and Savage Grace neighbors in the warehouse district, but their Grüner Veltliners are, too. [Note: Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s signature white wine grape.] They come from the same vineyard in the Columbia Gorge: Underwood Mountain. So wouldn’t it be fun to buy a bottle of each (the freshly-available 2014 vintage), take them home, and compare the two? What, that’s not how you spend your Saturday nights? If you have a different concept of fun, I’d sure like to hear it!

Anyway, look at how beautiful this vineyard is:

underwood mountain mount hood

Damn! What up, Mount Hood?

So how are these Washington State Grüner Veltliners? Let’s tackle the W.T. Vintners first. Oh, wait. I need to explain the photo of me at the top. On first sniff the W.T. was very Middle Earth. Not Mordor, but rather the Shire: grass meats earth. So I thought I would give it a decant. And a violent one at that! You probably don’t think about decanting a white wine but the same holds true as for any red: air helps mellow out that cooped-up juice. I then poured the wine back in the bottle, completing a process known as “double decanting”. Also, I used my favorite decanter. I have three. (What?) This one I bought at Goodwill for under five bucks.

wt vintners gruner veltlinerSo after decanting, the W.T. offers a subtle savoriness. The smell of non-fruity things. That earthiness I mention earlier. THE SHIRE. And also a little honey-sweetness. (Note: this wine is totally dry, just talking aromas here.) It refreshes and has a fresh finish, with lots of parsley and herbal garden stuff. Green smoothy-esque. But not akin to drinking plants. Anyway, you can geek out over it. Or just crush a bottle with a friend and a bunch of springtime eats.

Shifting gears to the Savage Grace: I’m mildy obsessed with the green label. I happened to be at the tasting room when Winemaker Michael Savage was present and he mentioned how appropriate the color of the label is for the grape and the wine. I kind of want a pair of pants in that color. Or maybe a scarf. A pair of glasses? A tie? All of the above? (Note: But nothing Seattle Sounders, ok?)

So this Grüner is much more apple and pear-y. It has the kind of zip you’d get from a tart green, uh, apple. Complimented with a bit of creaminess. Not like a cappuccino, but more like a macchiato: A touch of foamed milk on top that doesn’t overwhelm the star of the show. Which would be the grapes. (DUH.)

savage grace gruner veltlinerBoth wines were $20 at their respective tasting rooms. A couple more wines I tasted at both spots that I recommend:

  • W.T. Vintners Syrah Les Collines 2012 (lots of fresh fruit, in a good spot right now)
  • W.T. Vintners Red Blend Stoney Vine Vineyard 2013 (meaty, gamey, bacon-y; unmistakably  from “The Rocks”…like in cooking, fat=flavor)
  • Savage Grace Chardonnay 2013 (racy with a touch of richness)
  • Savage Grace Riesling 2014 (slight sweetness balances the acidity)
  • Savage Grace Pinot Noir 2013 (light, fresh; serve slightly chilled)

Look for more to come from my day in Woodinville. You think that’s all I did? Now, back to online green pants shopping….

READ: More Gorge at Phelps Creek

Underwood Mountain photo from the vineyard website.

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