Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The Wachau Region of Austria. Photo Source.

Another bit of information from wine guru, Karen MacNeil:
Among the most exciting wines that have burst upon the scene in the in the last decade are the wines of Austria—in particular, the white wines of the Wachau, Austria’s top wine region. Less than an hour’s drive west of, upstream along the Danube, the Wachau (pronounced va-COW) is best known for its elegant, rich, yet bracing rieslings. Wachau wines are organized into three quality levels, which are indicated on the label.

Wachau Grapes. Photo Source.

Steinfeder: The most basic level of Wachau wines, steinfeder wines are delicate and light and, by law, can have no more than 11% alcohol. The name comes from steinfedergras (literally, “stone feather grass”) that grows among the rocky terraced vines, giving the landscape a sense of feathery lightness.

Federspiel: The middle level of wine, this comes from riper fruit and therefore has slightly more alcohol and body. The name literally translates as “feather play” and refers to the feathery lures local falconers once made to tempt hawks.

Smaragd: The top level, these wines are the ripest and fullest in body, and must have at least 12.5% alcohol. The word smaragd means “emerald” and refers to a local emerald green lizard that basks on the warmest rocks in sun-drenched vineyards.

I look forward to trying some of the Wachau wines. Some of my favorite white wines are from an Austrian producer; Anton Bauer. Anton Bauer wines are produced in the Wagram region of Austria. Grüner Vetliner Gmörk and Riesling are both crisp, bright wines that are easy to drink and pair well with a variety of foods. I recently picked up another bottle from AB, I believe it is their Rosenberg wine, which by it’s description sounds like a softer, rounder, ripe wine, perhaps similar to a Chardonnay.

More Ask Karen tips, tricks and facts.

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