[Image: Bunch of Grapes]
Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1998 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Steep, terraced vineyards make for spectacular scenery in Austria's beautiful Wachau region west of Vienna. Photo from the Wein aus Österreich/Wachau page (in English).

"Smaragd" is a mighty hard word for English-speaking tongues to wrap themselves around, but as Austrian wines gain an increasingly high reputation in the rest of the world, it's a word well worth learning. It's the highest of the three wine categories adopted by the "Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus" association of the Wachau wine district, which according to the Wein aus Österreich Website are Steinfeder (light, racy); Federspiel (elegant, medium body) and the Smaragd (ripe, full-bodied). Hugh Johnson refers to Smaragd as "a dry Spätlese," and I've never yet had one that wasn't extremely fine.

This Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, though pricey, was as rich and complex a white wine as I've enjoyed in a long time, and would make an intriguing "ringer" in a flight of fine white Burgundies.

Weingut Knoll 1994 Loibner 'Schütt' (Wachau, Austria) Grüner Veltliner Smaragd ($21.99)
Clear pale gold. Delicious scent, honey and wildflowers and a lovely mineral quality like wet slate. Very full-bodied and rich, flavors follow the nose; clean and lasting in an extremely long finish. Excellent wine, still youthful and seemingly capable of continued improvement over at least a few more years. U.S. importer: Milton S. Kronheim & Co., Ltd., Washington, D.C.; a Terry Theise Estate Selection. (Feb. 19, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Startlingly good with an asparagus-and-potato frittata. Rich whites seem to do well with eggs.

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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