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Domane Wachau Smaragd Achleiten Gruner Veltliner 2009
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.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of any curious wine drinker. A rather cool and dry wine growing region, this country produces wine that is quintessentially European in style: food-friendly with racy acidity, moderate alcohol and fresh fruit flavors.
Austria’s viticultural history is rich and vast, dating back to Celtic tribes with first written record of winemaking starting with the Romans. But the 20th century brought Austria a series of winemaking obstacles, namely the plunder of both world wars, as well as its own self-imposed quality breach. In the mid 1980s, after a handful of shameless vintners were found to have added diethylene glycol (a toxic substance) to their sweet wines to imitate the unctuous qualities imparted by botrytis, Austria’s credibility as a wine-producing country was compromised. While no one was harmed, the incident forced the country to rebound and recover stronger than ever. By the 1990s, Austria was back on the playing field with exports and today is prized globally for its quality standards and dedication to purity and excellence.
Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and herbal, peppery aromatics, is Austria's most important white variety, comprising nearly a third of Austrian plantings. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry and are full of bright citrus flavors and good acidity. Red varietal wines include the tart and peppery Zweigelt, spicy and dense Blaufränkisch and juicy Saint Laurent. These red varieties are also sometimes blended.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important and most planted white grape.
In the Glass
Crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity, Grüner Veltliner is marked by telltale notes of white pepper, citrus, peach, herbs and a bright minerality. While most are fresh and ready to drink early, there are a few styles to be found. Many high caliber single vineyard bottlings can benefit from cellar aging but the straightforward and easily quaffable Grüners often come in one liter size bottles—a convenient size!
Grüner Veltliner is a wonderfully versatile wine. It can pair with just about any lighter fare, from seafood to poultry, or even notoriously difficult vegetables like asparagus and artichokes. Traditional Austrian Weiner Schnitzel is also a perfect match to the acidity and spice in Grüner Veltliner.
About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.