Having explained thoroughly how Protected Designation of Origin and quality classification work in Wachau, it is time we put the theory we learnt into practice and dug even deeper.
We have decided to organize a blind tasting trying to decode Wachau vineyards. Needless to say, we had prepared carefully and attempted to study everything in advance. In the end, it seemed logical to focus on the wines of Domäne Wachau to establish clear-cut relations and eliminate the stylistic and interpretative differences between wineries.
We have also decided not to taste the top class called Smaragd fearing that late harvests and potential botrytis would make it difficult for us, beginner tasters of Wachau (but not beginner tasters at all) to detect any typical features of various vineyards. We have finally chosen Federspiel wines generally characterized by an alcohol content between 11.5–12.5% as well as tight, vibrant and elegant features.
Federspiel wines can normally be purchased for less than 25 Euros in the wine region; the average is somewhere between 10 and 13 Euros. We have bought the parcel-select Federspiel wines of Domäne Wachau for 10.90 Euros in the vinoteka of the winery.
To further narrow our scope and eliminate potential mistakes, we have concentrated only on the Grüner Veltliner grape variety. This is how we got the following six wines strictly of the same vintage.
Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Loibenberg 2015 I 89-91 points
Tasting note: Complex nose of peach, ripe apple, green apple, wet stone, chalk, medlar, white pepper and grape. Extremely calcareous and chalky on the palate with lots of apple and vibrant, elegant acidity. Tight, elegant and masculine in character. Wow!
About Loibenberg: As already suggested by the name, this vineyard is located on the Loibenberg (town: Unterloiben), which shapes the overall appearance of the townscape. The vast extent and great differences in altitude have led to the distinction of a total of 4 official vineyard sections (Langen Zung, Rothenberg, Rauheneck, Süssenberg) and a multitude of small differences, which local winemakers bring to prominence in maturing. The geology is dominated by Gföhl gneiss, although there are also several parcels where loess patches developed, further emphasising the diversity. The vineyard was documented in 1381, when is was still called "leub_n perig”. Total size of the vineyard: 31.1 Ha, Sea level: 213-396 m, Orientation: W-SE, Terraced vineyard: yes.
Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kreuzberg 2015 I 83-84 points
Tasting note: Aromas of mandarin, lemon and green tea. Medium bodied with rounded acidity, feels flabbier than the other two. Flavours of citrus fruit, a little apple and white pepper. Somewhat empty on the mid-palate combined with a short finish.
About Kreuzberg: The climate and soils of the Kreuzberg (town: Rossatz) are defined by the transition from the Dunkelstein Forest. Cool fall winds in combination with a highly diverse paragneiss complex and amphibolite produce well-structured wines, which, though not as full-bodied as wines from the neighbouring Kirnberg, are nonetheless very profound and elegant. At the same time, the Kreuzberg is home to a very diverse dry grassland, where rare orchid species are found as well as Steinfedergras (feather grass), which lends its name to the Vinea brand. Although they are facing north, their location on the most north-facing peak of the Dunkelstein Forest bathes the vineyards in sunshine all day long. Total size of the vineyard: 8.96 Ha, Sea level: 204-239 m, Orientation: N, Terraced vineyard: partially.
Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Liebenberg 2015 I 83-85 points
Tasting note: Gooseberry, vine flower and medlar on the nose. Medium bodied, slightly flabby acidity and a somewhat one-dimensional palate with lots of citrus fruit, green apple and a slightly herbal background. Flowers and lemon on the finish.
About Liebenberg: As the mountain between the Tiefenthal and the Heudürrgraben, the Liebenberg (town: Dürnstein) is one of the three imposing vineyards between Weissenkirchen and Dürnstein. Oriented towards the south and south-west, the Liebenberg captivates with its very homogeneous overall appearance, characterised by dry stone walls. As a donation from Leuthold von Kuenring, this vineyard name was documented very early on (1312). The name refers to the former owners, the aristocratic Liebenberg dynasty. Total size of the vineyard: 10.14 Ha, Sea level: 203-347 m, Orientation: SW-S, Terraced vineyard: yes.
Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kaiserberg 2015 I 84-86 points
Tasting note: Restrained bouquet of white flowers, lots of white pepper and a touch of apricot stone bitterness. A broad, mouth-filling wine with smooth acidity, citrus fruit, apple and herbs; the latter intensifying on the long on the already long finish.
About Kaiserberg: The steep slopes between Weissenkirchen and Dürnstein have resounding names. The mountain in the middle bears the most impressive name of all: Kaiserberg (town: Dürnstein). Even if the name suggests a different meaning, the late documentation of this vineyard name leads to the conclusion that it originates from a family name. Total size of the vineyard: 14.44 Ha, Sea level: 203-376 m, Orientation: S-SE, Terraced vineyard: yes.
Domane Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Pichlpoint 2015 I 87-88 points
Tasting note: Cool herbal, floral and apple nose with a touch of quince and some spearmint in the background. Medium bodied with attractive acidity, smoother than the previous wine. The nose is reflected on the palate with a lot of flowers and increasing notes of wet stone. Medium to long finish. Super!
About Pichlpoint: Pichl Point (town: Joching) is a kind of high plateau with deep soils that are generally characterised by thick layers of loess. The wines are expressive and powerful. Grüner Veltliner thrives particularly well here. Total size of the vineyard: 16.88 Ha, Sea level: 215-254 m, Orientation: SE, Terraced vineyard: partially.
Domäne Wachau, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kollmitz 2015 I 83-85 points
Tasting note: Warming character with citrus fruit, chalk, mandarin, flowers and nettle on the nose. Medium bodied, lively acidity and a taut structure. Calcareous, chalky notes with lots of citrus fruit meaning that the acidity also dominates on the finish, a citrus, salty and green apple combination.
About Kollmitz: The Kollmitz (town: Joching) vineyard can be considered the landmark mountain of the town of Joching. It is dominated by escarpment terraces. The name probably has the same origin as the neighbouring mountain Kollmütz in Wösendorf (the name was documented for the first time in 1151 as “Cholmunz”). Total size of the vineyard: 18.1 Ha, Sea level: 249-361 m, Orientation: SE, Terraced vineyard: yes.
Should you like to try drinks of other wineries (for wines produced in different vineyards, for instance), we recommend the following – incomplete – list from 2015:
1. F.X.Pichler - Loibner Frauenweingarten 2015
2. Alzinger - Mühlpoint 2015
3. Anton Nothnagl - Steinporz 2015
4. Holzapfel - Achleiten 2015
5. F.X.Pichler - Loibner Klostersatz 2015
6. Jamek - Ried Achleiten 2015
7. F.J.Gritsch - Mauritiushof - Klaus 2015
8. Knoll - Ried Kreutles 2015
9. Josef Ficher - Ried Zanzl 2015
10. Karl Stierschneider - Kartauserhof - Klaus 2015
11. Holzapfel - Zehenthof 2015
12. Fischengruben - Kellerweingarten 2015
13. Johann Donabaum - Point 2015
14. Lagler - Stezberg 2015
15. Lagler - Burgberg 2015
16. Alzinger - Hochstrasser 2015
17. Jamek - Ried Pichl Point 2015
18. Prager - Hinter der Burg 2015
19. Gritsch Thomas /Hof in der Lauben/ - Bruck 2015
20. Bernhard - Vorderseiber 2015
21. Josef Fischer - Ried Steiger 2015
22. Karl Stierschneider - Kartauserhof - Achelten 2015
23. Familie Schmelz - Ried Klaus 2015
24. Högl - Schön 2015
25. Jager - Klaus 2015
26. Günther Rettenbacher - Harzenleiten 2015
27. Franz Hirtzberger - Rotes Tor 2015
28. Firschenburger - Steiger 2015
29. Anton Nothnagl - Burgberg 2015
30. Frischengruber - Frauenweingarten 2015
31. Franz Pichler - Bachgarten 2015
Finally, we recommend the website of Vinea Wachau providing a description of each and every vineyard (this is where we also got ours) and photographs of many. The whole site is amazing and an example to follow for all wine regions throughout the world.