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Schmelz Schmelz Joching 1992 Wachau-Dürnstein (Austria) Grüner Veltliner Smaragd ($15.99)
This fine Austrian wine may have been sitting around the retailer for quite a while when I picked it up recently, and a heavy, black encrustation around the cork wasn't reassuring. The wine, however, seemed to be fine; and as is typical of this variety - particularly in the high-level "Smaragd" rating from Austria's Wachau - is still youthful with many years of aging potential remaining. Clear light brass in color, it breathes floral honeysuckle aromas and the distinct "mineral" quality that's characteristic of Wachau. Full-bodied, almost unctuous on the palate, its white-fruit and mineral flavors follow the nose, wrapped up in steely acidity. A bit of damp-wool scent, complex and pleasant, develops as the wine warms in the glass. U.S. importer: Milton S. Kronheim & Co., Inc., Washington, D.C.; a Terry Theise Estate Selection. (Feb. 29, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: An excellent match with pan-grilled baby squid stuffed with bluefish.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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