Gruner Veltliner 

Three versatile wines from Central Europe

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Gruner veltliner sounds like it might be the name of a European high-speed train or a German Bundesliga football team, but this Austrian grape variety produces one of the most versatile, food friendly wines around. It goes great with seafood, pork, poultry and pasta with white sauce. It also holds up to spicy Thai food and other Asian cuisine. Think asparagus makes for an impossible wine pairing? Think again. Gruner even works with it. And if that weren't enough, it's delicious on its own. Here are the panel's top three picks:

2013 Broadbent Gruner Veltliner, $11.99

This wine offers enticing aromas of fresh-grown spring greens that's typical of the variety (think mesclun mix). There's a nice floral element, as well, that includes pear and raspberry soda. The palate is ripe and round with fresh lime, apple and pear flavors. Food friendly acidity comes through on the finish. This is an excellent value for an over-sized, one-liter bottle

2013 Count Karolyi Gruner Veltliner, $11.99

The nose is a fruity mix of peach, pear, apricot and apple with touches of flint, mint and herb. Lots of bright citrus comes through in the mouth, especially on the mid-palate. The finish is crisp and clean with an attractive mineral component.

2012 Fred Loimer Gruner Veltliner, $16.99

This wine opens with a gorgeous array of aromas including succulent apple and apricot, spring greens, blood orange, lime and a hint of buttery garlic. This is an exceptionally well-balanced wine that's oh-so-smooth on the palate. The flavors are bright and lively with lime and tangerine fruit up front, and gooseberry and mineral on the long, lovely finish.

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