The Group met for a Tasting, led by Ralph, of Wines from the Wachau, in Austria. This is the most Westerly of the main Austrian wine areas, sitting picturesquely on the banks of the Danube between Spitz and Krems. Nearly all wines there are white – and based on either Grüner Veltliner or Riesling.

The Wachau has its own categories, all for dry white wines: Steinfeder (“Stone feather”—named after a grass, that grows in the vineyards): maximum 11.5% alcohol mostly consumed locally. Federspiel (named after a falconry term): 11.5% to 12.5% alcohol and a minimum must weight roughly equivalent to Kabinett. Smaragd (named after an ’emerald’ lizard that lives in the vineyards) is regarded as a mark of quality and depth, with wine made from fully ripe grapes and complying with some standards: minimum 12.5% alcohol, with a maximum 9 g/litre residual sugar.

Ralph showed us 6 wines 5 from Tegernseehof (a grower from just East of Dürnstein): 4 Riesling and a Grüner Veltliner; together with an additional Riesling by Johann Donabaum from Spitz.

Here are my notes:
Grüner Veltliner Lobennerg 2007 (Tegernseehof)
Over-ripe peach and mango notes with hints of caramel, vague peppery hints – if you look for it – but green peppercorn rather than white. Palate has a slightly stony texture with a green pithy acidity with exotic fruit and a clean, slightly salty, greengage finish.

Riesling Terrassen Federspiel 2012 (Tegernseehof)
Slightly oily nose – that may become diesel with time, floral hints, blossom with a herby touch. Acidity is warm (with, in fact, a peppery touch), and a bitter-sweetness, pith and honey palate. Pretty long with a citric, spicy crunch at the finish. Although a light example some quite warm flavours…

Riesling Steinertal Loiben Smaragd 2010 (Tegernseehof)
Lime hints with a spicy tickle and a soft fruit tinge. Cooler balance than the previous wine but with a warm stony texture and honeyed white fruit flavours. Long line of mineral acidity and food-demanding. A very nice, and rather distinctive Riesling.

Riesling Steinertal 2007 (Tegernseehof)
Diesel notes, peach, blossom and herbs in quite a Germanic package. Much more typical palate too, honeyed sweetness and soft white fruit cut by a citric acidity and a herby, fennel? touch. Softer and sweeter than the previous wine from the same vineyard – maybe with too much residual sugar to be a Smaragd. Good but less distinctive than its predecessor or >>>

Riesling Kellererg 2007 (Tegernseehof)
Lighter diesel with delicate but complex nose of white peach and slightly spicy mango fruit, some herbs too. Precise acid line right through the palate with stony and pepper elements (again!). Cool, clean, complex, long – very good.

Riesling Setzberg Smaragd 2007 (Donabaum)
Smokey, apple, diesel, honey on quite a pungent nose. Sweetness first – warm honey flavours with a line of acidity backing it. Warmth right through the wine and an oily finish. Another more Germanic (or orthodox?) style.

A very interesting tasting which brought to mind several things, Firstly, that although the area produces wine with good acidity and keeping potential it is within a slightly warmer and richer climate, which makes for wines that sometimes show more new-worldly flavours. Secondly, that many of the wines, the Rieslings as much as the GV, show peppery notes – often cited as a GV indicator – maybe it is also a characteristic of Wachau, or at least Tegernseehof sites. Finally, for me, the wines I most appreciated – partly for their slightly distinctive expression of Rieslings were wines 3 and 5. Both very good, but the more distinctive, at least at the moment, was the Steinertal Smaragd 2010.

Thank you Ralph for a lovely tasting…

Until soon…