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Domane Wachau Beerenauslese Terrassen (375ML half-bottle) 2012
The Domäne Wachau is situated in the heart of the Wachau Valley, one of Europe’s oldest cultural landscapes. Led by winery director and Master of Wine Roman Horvath and winemaker Heinz Frischengruber, Domäne Wachau counts among the leading wine producers in Austria. The winery is based in the picturesque medieval town of Dürnstein. The region offers perfect conditions and unique terroir for growing outstanding wines. An extremely cool, marginal climate imbues elegance and finesse. Steep terraced hillside vineyards are the foundation for extremely low yields that guarantee structure and complexity.
Teamwork is the very essence of Domäne Wachau. The experienced and passionate vintner families of Domäne Wachau cultivate their vineyards according to strict quality criteria, following a complex, sustainable and environmentally conscious cultivation programme: green cover is planted between the vines, biodiversity is promoted and canopy management is carefully adjusted to each year’s weather conditions. The physical demands are enormous; the steep vineyards usually allow only manual labour and the dry stone walls, which have marked the landscape for generations, must be maintained.
Heinz Frischengruber and his team vinify the handpicked grapes with as little intervention as possible. The result is a unique range of authentic and elegant wines that reflect the diversity of the Wachau terroir, grape varieties and the famous Wachau single-vineyards.
As Austria’s most prestigious wine growing region, the landscape of the Wachau is—not surprisingly—one of its most dramatic. Millions of years ago, the Danube River chiseled its way through the earth, creating steep terraces of decomposed volcanic and metamorphic rock. Then harsh Ice Age winds brought deposits of ancient glacial dust and loess to the terrace’s eastern faces. Today these steep surfaces of nutrient poor and fast draining soil are home to some of Austria’s very best sites for both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.
Wachau is small, comprising a mere three percent of Austria’s vine surface and, considering relatively low yields, represents a miniscule proportion of total wine production. Diurnal temperature shifts in Wachau facilitate great balance of sugar and phenolic ripeness in its grapes. At night cold air from the Alps and forests in the northwest displace warm afternoon air, which gets sucked upstream along the Danube.
Its sites are actually so varied and distinct that more emphasis is going into vineyard-designated offerings even despite grape variety. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are most prominent, but the region produces Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Zweigelt among other local variants.
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.