Wine of last week: Domäne Wachau 2016 Federspiel Terrassen Gruner Veltliner


Instead of doing a "wine of the week," I'm starting a "wine of last week" feature where I talk about a wine I discovered (or maybe a wine I discovered something new about) each Monday morning.

The idea of this is not just to introduce you to new wines. It's also an opportunity for me to do some additional research on the wine and the region it comes from. By telling you what I learn, maybe more of it will stay inside my head!

I'm starting with Domäne Wachau Federspiel Terrassen Gruner Veltliner. I had the wine last Saturday night at Buddakan in Atlantic City.

I was there as my friend Lisa's guest, who was there as a guest of a PR company that sent her there to check out some of the Stephen Starr restaurants in AC. So, I suppose in the interest of complete transparency, I should say that this wine was part of a comped media weekend, although it wasn't technically my media weekend.

The wine

This lovely, medium-bodied, dry gruner veltliner had an apple-y nose with melon, honeysuckle, a hint of pepper and minerality on the palate. It was balanced and great with the Asian-inspired dishes - particularly the house salad with ginger dressing. The pairing actually made me want to eat more salad, which sadly is not my normal feeling about salad. It also paired well with the pan seared sea bass in truffle jus. It even held up nicely to the wasabi crusted filet mignon.

A little wine learning

According to their website, Domäne Wachau's is one of "Austria's most renowned wineries" situated in the Wachau, a UNESCO world heritage site - a place the UN says has cultural or physical significance and is not allowed to be changed or damaged. Wachau is part of the larger Niederösterreich wine region.

The Wachau region does not have a DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus) classification. Rather, it has its "own classification controlled by Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus since 1984, before any idea of appellations in Austria was conceived."

In Wachau there are three styles of wine: steinfeder, federspiel, smaragd. These white wine classifications can be used only by wineries that are member of the Codex Wachau.

  • Steinfeder: Dry, very light and fruit-driven wines that are fresh and meant to be consumed within a year of bottling. They are made from the first picked grapes and are the least expensive. They are usually consumed by the Austrians and aren't normally exported. The name comes from a type of grass that grows near the vineyards that is light and fragrant. Maximum ABV 11.5%.

  • Federspiel: Dry, medium bodied and elegantly balanced wines that's a versatile table wine. (And, considering how versatile the Domän Wachau Federspeil Gruner Veltliner went with several dishes at dinner, I can see this.) They are strong wines with a generous amount of character. 11.5 - 12.5% ABV.

  • Smargd: These are late harvest wines made from grapeshot are vilified dry. It goes well with hearty dishes. Grapes were harvested late and vinified dry for this wine which is a perfect accompaniment to hearty dishes and also develops its full flavour when drunk on its own. They have a rich body - both in weight and flavor. These are suitable for again. Minimum 12.5% ABV.

From Domäne Wachau's website, I can see that the winery makes a gruner veltliner in each of the three styles - all Terrassen - a word that means terrace. If you see Terrassen on an Austrian wine label it means the grapes used to make the wine were sourced from terraced vineyards.

(Sources: Wine Wisdom, Austrian Wine)

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