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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Axpoint 2009, Domäne Wachau

I know Austria's Wachau Valley well as, when I lived in Vienna, I would regularly put my bike in the car, drive up to Krems and then cycle the 100km round trip to Melk with its baroque monastery and back; it is a beautiful, UNESCO-protected stretch of the Danube with vineyards on steep terraced slopes, orchards, pretty villages and ruined castles.

This single-vineyard Grüner Veltliner from Domäne Wachau is from Axpoint at the Krems end of the valley.

It's a Smaragd - meaning emerald and referring to a green lizard that is native to the Wachau - the highest of three levels of ripeness and quality, used solely for wines for the Wachau which must achieve 12.5% alcohol.

The lower levels (Steinfeder, 11.5% and Federspiel, 11.5% - 12.5%) produce correspondingly lighter wines - see here for a review of the Domäne Wachau Federspiel Grüner Veltliner.

On the nose, there is white pepper, leatheriness and is a slight mustiness of cellar or old books which I have found before in top Wachau whites; it's rather unusual and in no way unpleasant.

Crisply acidic, with a mineral backbone, there are cox's apples and pears on the palate with rich honeyed undertones and good minerality; this is a much bigger and longer wine than the Federspiel.

Well-made, complex, crisp and mouthfilling, this reminds me of why I fell in love with Austrian wines all those years ago.

Sampled a day or so later to see how it will develop with some air, it had the classic Grüner Veltliner aromas of white pepper, puy lentils and celery.

We matched it with the same dish that overwhelmed the Federspiel earlier; that is, a starter of coquailles St Jacques and a main of lightly-baked whole salmon. This time, the richer, fuller and more crisply fleshier wine stood up to the richness of the fishy dinner.

€18.40 from Domäne Wachau. Provided for review


Domäne Wachau - http://www.domaene-wachau.at/

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