Here’s an estate on a winning streak, returning in victorious form! Domäne Wachau was last year voted Europe’s best vineyard, worthy recognition of its uniformly excellent wines grown on stunning slopes overlooking the Danube River.
Its Federspiel wines – that special Wachau designation for mid-weight, moderate-alcohol bottlings that express Riesling and Grüner Veltliner’s varietal character with easy-drinking verve – are sure-fire winners every time. We have the new Terrassen wines from 2020 – very cool and elegant, they are, too – along with a pair of grand-cru single-vineyard Federspiel wines from the exceptional 2019 vintage.
The latter wines, from Bruck (Riesling) and Kaiserberg (Grüner) are amazing value for the definition and focus they they show. If you want to visit these unique, steep, rocky sites in varietally true wines, this is your ticket.
In addition to these dry whites, we have a new rendition of the spicy, red/black-berry-laden Zweigelt and a re-stock of the sublime (and, again, very well-priced) Beerenauslese from 2017.
2020 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Terrassen Federspiel $32
Grapes for Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen were carefully hand-picked from steeply terraced vineyards throughout the Wachau valley. Work in the vineyard takes place based on sustainable and, increasingly, organic principles, without the use of insecticides or herbicides, and grapes are hand-picked. The grapes are carefully selected and then processed in a pneumatic tank press, with the must then fermented under controlled temperature and aged on their fine lees in stainless steel tanks.
Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Terrassen is a real benchmark wine from Wachau, characterised by fresh fruit and pronounced minerality. The wine offers distinctive aromas of green apple, white pepper, hints of mango and delicate herbal notes. This Federspiel is a classic example of Grüner Veltliner with its medium-body crisp acidity, juicy fruits and white spice on the finish. The name Federspiel is derived from falconry which was a very popular leisure time activity among the nobility in medieval times. The falcon stands for the remarkable elegance of these dry white wines. – Roman Horvath MW, Domäne Wachau
2019 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Kaiserberg Federspiel $36
“Kaiserberg “(the “emperor’s hill) was the ancient campground of emperor Charlemagne, who banished the Avars from the Wachau around 800 AD. The vineyard is situated west of Dürnstein. Wines from Kaiserberg are renowned for their superb overall balance and their classical mineral character.
The grapes for Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Kaiserberg were carefully hand-picked. Our modern grape reception system enables us to select only 100% healthy grape material. Short maceration, gentle pressing, overnight sedimentation, and temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel define the vinification process. Before bottling, the wine matured on the fine lees for several weeks.
Intense aromas including white flowers, subtle hints of stone fruit and smoky sweet spices as well as elegant tropical fruits. In the mouth it is a well-balanced, fresh wine with lively acidity, flavourful fruit and well-structured salty character causing it to linger on the palate. The name “Federspiel” is derived from falconry which was a very popular leisure time activity among the nobility in medieval times. The falcon stands for the remarkable elegance of these dry white wines. – Roman Horvath MW, Domäne Wachau
Light yellow-green, silver reflections. Slightly restrained, fine yellow tropical fruit of papaya and pineapple, mineral note. Juicy, elegant, white apple, fresh acidity, mineral, precise and grippy, fine citrus nuances on the finish.92 points. Peter Moser, Falstaff Magazine
2020 Domäne Wachau Riesling Terrassen Federspiel $32
Grapes from different small, terraced vineyard plots were carefully handpicked for this wine. The majority of the grapes come from the vineyards surrounding Spitz, Dürnstein and Weissenkirchen. This Riesling Federspiel reflects the unique climate and primary rock soils of the Wachau Valley.
Work in the vineyard takes place based on sustainable and, increasingly, organic principles, without the use of insecticides or herbicides, and grapes are hand-picked. The grapes are carefully selected and then processed in a pneumatic tank press, with the must then fermented under controlled temperature and aged on their fine lees in stainless steel tanks.
Present and pronounced on the nose this wine displays stone fruit, delicate lime and hints of ripe pear. On the palate there are flavours of juicy white peach and subtle hints of apricot. This wine is well balanced by a refined structure, very fresh, crisp, and plush acidity. The name “Federspiel” is derived from falconry which was a very popular leisure time activity among the nobility in medieval times. The falcon stands for the remarkable elegance of these dry white wines. – Roman Horvath MW, Domäne Wachau
2019 Domäne Wachau Riesling Bruck Federspiel $36
Bruck is probably one of the most exciting and unique vineyards of the Wachau. It is situated on the very edge of Austria’s winegrowing zone. Thanks to the particular microclimate, the grapes in the south facing and steeply terraced Bruck vineyard ripens beautifully. Wines from Bruck are characterised by distinctively cool scents and particular elegance.
The vines are cultivated on extremely steep terraces. The average yield was 2.5 tonnes per hectare. Grapes for Riesling Federspiel Bruck were carefully hand-picked at the middle of October. After maceration and temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks the wine matures in stainless steel before bottling.
The distinctive “Bruck-style” is smoky with a precise structure and complex rich stone fruit aromas and exotic. The palate is balanced and elegant tasting of peach, ripe apricot and delicious apple. The persistent minerality and racy acidity are well balanced by this wine’s full body and lasting finish. The name “Federspiel” dates back to medieval times and is derived from falconry. The falcon is symbolic of the elegance and liveliness of the Federspiel wines. – Roman Horvath MW, Domäne Wachau
Lots of lemon grass, mineral and spiced apple. Tight and very polished with beautiful fruit and transparency. Polished and refined. Drink or hold. Screw cap.93 points. Stuart Pigott, jamessuckling.com
2019 Domäne Wachau Blauer Zweigelt $30
Blauer Zweigelt, also known as Rotburger, is a typical Austrian grape variety and a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. In Austria, Zweigelt is mostly vinified to fresh, fruity and appealing red wines. Only 6% of Domäne Wachau’s total production is red wine (mainly Zweigelt and some Pinot Noir and St. Laurent).
Grapes for Blauer Zweigelt Terrassen were carefully hand-picked from various small vineyards throughout the Wachau valley. The majority of the grapes come from the villages of Weissenkirchen, Wösendorf, Joching, Rossatz-Arnsdorf and Mautern. The Zweigelt vines grow mainly on steep, walled, terraced vineyards with primary rock and partly on loess terraces with heavier sandy soils.
Zweigelt grows easily and most typically produces uncomplicated, easy drinking wines. In order to cultivate high quality grapes, ridged crop management in the vineyards is essential in order to keep yields down and flavour concentration high. The unique growing conditions on the terraces also help restrict the yields without much human intervention. The grapes for this Zweigelt were harvested by hand, then destemmed, crushed and fermented by applying classical mash fermentation with 15% juice extraction for several days. Malolactic conversion and maturation followed in big wooden casks in order to achieve balance and round off the tannins.
These wines are medium ruby red with intense purple highlights. Fruit-driven aromas of wild strawberry and blackberry are accompanied by forest soil, hints of clove and black pepper fragrances. The palate is medium-bodied and elegant. The mouth-watering acidity balances the soft tannins to make this Zweigelt an enjoyable and pleasant red wine. – Roman Horvath MW, Domäne Wachau
2017 Domäne Wachau Beerenauslese $49
A blend of Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and Gelber Muskateller from terraced vineyards throughout the Wachau. The wine reflects the elegant and precise style and character of Wachau sweet wines.
Botrytised Riesling grapes have a high concentration of sugar that creates the viscosity of wines. Additionally, top quality sweet wines also require a small portion of healthy, non-botrytised grapes to retain fine fruit character and precision. The grapes were carefully hand-picked between mid-October and mid-November with an average yield with only 1.5 tonnes per hectare. Temperature-controlled fermentation and vinification in stainless steel tanks guarantee particular elegance and structure.
These wines are straw yellow with golden reflections. Open and pronounced, the nose complex bouquet of intense fruit flavours, forest honey, exotic fruits, physalis, mango, passion fruit, subtle hints of citrus, wild herbs. The palate is sweet and harmonious with refreshing acidity. This is a very expressive sweet wine with a long finish.
At first the nose is subdued, hinting at fresh, white field mushroom and something sonorous and sweet behind it. The palate, however, comes with a high, bright and resplendent note of lemon zest and candied peel freshness that makes the nobly sweet richness even more luscious. This strikes a most eloquent and almost serene balance. The long finish brims with fresh zestiness. Drink by 2050.95 points. Anne Krebiehl MW, Wine Enthusiast