With absolutely no slight whatsoever to sauvignon blanc or chardonnay or any other commonly found light, bright crisp white on eastern Long Island, please go get yourself a bottle of One Woman‘s grüner veltliner. Or maybe get a case. Because once you start sipping this gorgeous golden aromatic grape juice, you’ll want to put it in constant rotation at your table and in your life.
Grüner veltliner is a grape born of Austria, and while there are a few winemakers out east toying with a grape or three from that country, it’s not the most common source of vine inspiration. But for owner Claudia Purita, it was the aromatics that grabbed her, born of a sense memory from long ago.
“We had just a family winery,” she says of growing up in the small town of Filadelfia in Calabria, Italy. “My dad made wine for our household and for his brothers.” But while her father had several different grape varieties planted on the family farm, the only one she can recall from her childhood is muscat. “We had many grapes, but I don’t remember exactly what kind, just muscat. That was the one I liked the most; it’s very aromatic.”
Years later when planting her own vineyard in Southold, New York, she found herself gravitating to grapes with similar perfumed charms— grapes like gewürztraminer and grüner veltliner. She has three acres of the latter, which she planted in 2008. Since then, she’s found that even in such relatively small quantities, which could surely be harvested in one fell swoop, it’s better to be patient.
“We were one of the first [on Long Island] to have grüner, and we’ve just had to try to figure out how does it work,” she says. When you taste the richer, deeper fruit and spice influences in the wine, it speaks to perhaps having been picked later in the season, allowing it to linger a little longer to develop more tropical flavor influences. But then it zaps you with beautiful acidity, leaving you thinking, hmmm, how’d she do that?
“I’ve been crazy. I’ve tried it both ways–picking early and preserving the acidity and then picking late and having a heavier-style wine,” Purita says. “What I discovered was a combination of both of these ways brings out both qualities. It’s a very expressive wine.”
It’s also a very labor intensive wine. “I go myself and choose which rows to pick, and then I go back again. Day by day, not just one morning. And although it’s just three acres, the composition of the soil is different from one end to the other. That effects the ripeness, too,” she says.
Ripe it is—it smells like pineapple and pink grapefruit. There are notes of vanilla bean and nougat, ripe tangerine and white pepper. And that pink grapefruit part that you smelled? When you taste it, it’s as if you took a grapefruit half and gave it a quick once-over on a grill, where the sugars get all nice and caramelized and the fruit stays juicy. It’s full and plush on your tongue, but never heavy, with a zippy hum of acidity keeping the wine fresh from start to finish. Really, it’s hard to put down.
Currently, there are no South Fork shops or restaurants selling or pouring Purita’s gorgeous grüner, but the North Fork is just a FedEx truck away and she’s happy to ship it to you. And you’ll be happy to get it.