Not a bloody t-bone of course. In fact, what I wound up serving with this example of Gruner Veltliner (GROO-ner velt-LEE-ner), Austria’s sassy signature white variety, was about as far from a bloody t-bone as you can get and still be beef, but more on that later…
I’ve written quite a bit about Austrian wine of late, but with a heavier lean toward the reds, and the last white if I remember correctly, was a Riesling. There are those who make the (somewhat dubious) argument that the noble Riesling is Austrian in origin, but that’s a tough row to hoe. NO ONE however, doubts that Gruner Veltliner is as Austrian as Heddy Lamar, and that it is the real white flagship of the Austrian Viticultural Navy (yes, I’m pushing it.), and looks to remain in the vanguard.
Gruner Veltliner is a grape that nearly always produces a wonderfully brash and sharply acidic wine, that in addition to herbs and pomaceous and citrus fruits, can also smell of pea soup and horse blanket and flint. It’ll dance beautifully with any white-fleshed protein from land, air, and water and/or anything vegetal with a cocksure aplomb, but despite its ability to punch above its weight – Beef?!
So I set out to come up with the “whitest” beef recipe I could, and what I arrived at was a small mess of small meatballs boiled in a stock made from aromatic and root veggies. From a bit of the stock, I made a horseradish/cream sauce for the meatballs, and with the rest, a light yellow pea soup with tarhonya (roughly rice-sized “flecks” of Hungarian egg pasta) served as a first course. Alongside the meatballs, I slapped down some mashed potatoes laced with a thread of pumpkin seed oil.
Buchegger Gruner Veltliner “Holzgasse” Niederosterreich 2011
Very pale “white gold” color. Punchy, tidy and complex nose of pear, fresh herbs, white pepper, wet stones, bubblegum, beeswax, kerosene, white flowers, and pine needles. The palate is ultimately medium-bodied, by way of a very high-toned, spunky acidity, and a slight spritz on one side, and an intense richness on the other. From this structure spring clean, taut, elegant, and “pure” flavors of grapefruit and honeydew melon, followed by bittersweet toasted almond and grape skin flavors that continue into the echoing, clean finish.