A hint of fruit, a breath of … wool!?

Mmm, who doesn’t love the gentle scent of a warm, fuzzy wool sweater on a chilly day? But this is not an aroma that one expects to find in wine.

Notes for you

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• Today’s tasting report: Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Grüner Veltliner

So it was a little surprising when a distinct aroma of damp wool rose up from my glass of this week’s featured Austrian white wine, Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Grüner Veltliner.

Was it a bug, or was it a feature? The answer, as with so many things wine, is, “It depends.” I took on this topic back in 2007 in the column “Woolly Thinking,” after encountering two wool-scented white wines in the space of two weeks.

In the case of an Alsatian Pinot Blanc, it was clearly a failing. The wet-wool character, I wrote, obviously enjoying myself, “was way, way over the top, a wine so profoundly afflicted that it reminded me of wearing a dirty wool sweater while sitting in a dumpster eating rotting canteloupes on a hot summer day.” Yuk.

The other, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, was an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. In this case, I noted, “the wool character was muted, close to the line between woolly and the vegetal scent that Austrian wine experts call ‘lentil’.”

A pastoral scene with white wine and sheep,  mage(s) generated by DALL·E, an AI model developed by OpenAI.

A pastoral scene with white wine and sheep. Image generated by DALL·E, an AI model developed by OpenAI.

I spent a little time digging into research, a process that I’ll offer as a link rather than running you through it all again today. But to put it briefly: Unlike cork taint, which always results from the unwanted presence of the musty contaminant trichloroanisole and is always evil, wet wool character in wine can result from different sources, and it can be an intriguing flavor element or an unpleasant flaw.

Most often, it’s a flaw, as in the Pinot Blanc that I so savagely reviewed. This often results from “light strike,” a chemical change that occurs when a bottle of wine is exposed to bright light and/or ultraviolet light at any point after bottling. Here’s a good article on light strike from Decanter.

However, for reasons that are not entirely clear, a more subtle and even enjoyable hint of wool apparently can be a terroir effect. While Loire Chenin Blanc most often shows this, it doesn’t surprise me that it turns up in Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian white that’s not entirely removed from Loire Chenin in style.

Wool and all, Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Grüner Veltliner is a tasty, complex white wine. If you try it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. And whether you find the wool or don’t. Here’s my tasting report.

Today’s Tasting Report

Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Langenlois Grüner Veltliner ($16.99)

Bründlmayer "L & T" Grüner Veltliner

Designated “L & T” for “Leicht und Trocken” (“Light and Dry”), Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Grüner Veltliner is made with certified organic grapes. Clear light brass color in the glass, it lofts up a distinct earthy, pleasant scent of damp wool that dances with apple and peach aromas and a grind of white pepper. Fresh, juicy white stone fruit flavors and lime zest find balance with crisp, food-friendly acidity on the palate, with light prickly petillance hovering at the threshold of perception. Fascinating white wine, best only lightly chilled so its subtle and complex flavors show … but is the woolly character a bug or a feature? 11% alcohol. U.S. importer: Skurnik Wines LLC, NYC. (Jan. 11, 2024)

FOOD MATCH: Weingut Brundlmayer advises pairing it with an aperitif, lighter starters, fish dishes, fresh cheeses, and stir-fries with vegetables, fish or chicken. We enjoyed it with mild cheeses and – wait for it – buttered popcorn!

WHEN TO DRINK: Fresh, prickly, and subtly delicious, this is a wine to drink young. The 2023 vintage is already out in Austria and Germany and will appear worldwide soon. You needn’t worry about 2022 or even 2021 being around the bend, but choose the most recent vintage you can find.

It’s a fine buy at my $17 local price, which significantly undersold Wine-Searcher.com’s $22 average U.S. retail. Check individual vendors on Wine-Searcher, though, as many shops of offer it from the mid-teens to $20.

Here’s a detailed fact sheet in English on Weingut Bründlmayer’s site.

Check prices and find vendors for Bründlmayer 2022 “L & T” Grüner Veltliner on Wine-Searcher.com.

Discover the Grüner Veltliner grape and find links to many bottlings and vendors at this Wine-Searcher link.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to read about Weingut Bründlmayer and find listings to other wines in its portfolio.


Wine Focus January 2024
Wines for Comfort Food

Welcome to the 2024 Wine Focus series. This year we will be trying different sorts of themes, rather than pinning ourselves to a single grape/region each month. Our topic for January 2024 is Wines for Comfort Food.

January is (in the northern hemisphere) a month where lots of folks hunker down, and make foods that keep the hearth and heart warm. It’s a time where those bigger, richer wines find an easier place at the table to accompany braises, stews and hearty soups. In addition to the drinking part, it will be interesting to know what people are eating. What did you serve to accompany that mature Syrah or rich Cabernet.

Grab a glass, as well as a fork and knife, and let’s tuck in to Wines for Comfort Food.


Find the wines you want

Explore Wine-Searcher

Wine-Searcher.com is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, Wine-Searcher.com offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!


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