Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2018, Austria
Cost: $14-16
J ust because we are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t mean we have to limit our wine horizons.
Like most of my readers I drink a lot of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. Those are all wonderful grapes, but I like to try a few other things once in a while.
Grüner Veltliner is one of those wines I keep coming back to when I want to try something different. I have had it so much it’s likely to become one of my staples, because Teri and I enjoy it.
Dick Benjamin from Wine World used to rave about Grüner Veltliner all the time. Before I tried it, I thought he might be exaggerating, but he wasn’t. It is one of the most under-appreciated and least known wines in the United States. And it has a fun nickname: gru-vee.
It is very popular in Europe, and accounts for about one third of all vines in Austria. It also is popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and has been growing in popularity in Australia and the United States.
The Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner I tried is typical of wines from the Wachau Valley of the picturesque Danube River which flows through Austria. It is full of fresh fruit and minerality, and comes at a great price.
Grüner Veltliner is typically high in acid with pear and yellow apple flavors. The Domäne Wachau is a bright yellow-green in the glass with aromas of green apple, white pepper and some herbal notes. On the palate I picked up juicy fruit flavors and a hint of spice on the finish. It is medium-bodied with a crisp acidity.
The grapes come from specific microclimate sites, with rocky soils. They all are on steeply terraced vineyards throughout the Wachau Valley.
The Wachau is the coolest wine growing region in Austria, characterized by steep terraces that look down upon the famous Danube river. Wine has been cultivated in the Wachau for centuries. And Domäne Wachau is perfectly situated to produce the best wine, given its steep terraced vineyards of volcanic soil. 
The grapes were hand picked and gentle pressed. The wine was allowed to settle overnight with temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
At Domäne Wachau, more than half of all wine produced is Grüner Veltliner. While Austrian wine laws are strict, the Wachau region goes a step farther. It places the wines in three quality categories, Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd.
Steinfeder is named for a vineyard grass and typically consumed young and fresh in Austria. The name Federspiel comes from the practice of falconry, which was a popular pastime among the nobility of the medieval era. Federspiel wines have a maximum alcohol content of 12.5 percent and adding sugar before fermentation, or Chaptalisation, is forbidden.
Powerful Smaragd, named for the sun-loving emerald lizards often seen basking on the Wachau’s terrace walls, must be above 12.5% alcohol and are specially built for years if not decades of maturing.
Winery: Taking its name from the Wachau vineyard area, Domäne Wachau is a cooperative of 250 vineyard owners.
The winery is led by Master of Wine Roman Horvath and winemaker Heinz Frischengruber. Their team, working closely with growers, has instituted a vineyard quality assurance program. This sustainable vineyard management program customizes how each vineyard is handled.
The winery was first mentioned in documents dating to 1137. It grew in importance when it was owned by the monastery of Dürnstein in the early 18th century. The abbot built the Kellershlössel castle, which is still used by the winery.
After the church gave up the property, ownership splintered into dozens of small parcels. Then in the 1930s vineyard owners banded together to form the cooperative, which grew over the years.
The World’s Best Vineyards named the vineyard best in Europe and third best in the world.
The wines are distributed in the United States by González Byass USA, a Chicago based importer for a strategically selected portfolio of fine wine and spirit brands from around the world including Spain, Chile, Italy and Austria.
González Byass USA is the U.S. subsidiary of González Byass, headquartered in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. González Byass is a family-owned collection of wineries founded in 1835 which spans across Spain’s most important wine producing regions. From its foundation, the González family have been dedicated to making fine Sherries and brandies in Jerez, Spain, creating such well-known brands as Tío Pepe Fino Sherry and Lepanto Brandy de Jerez. 
Goes with: We had this wine with chicken stir fry, a dish I have had frequently in the last few months. It is delicious, healthy and easy to fix. I especially like it because I can pair it with red or white wines.
The creamy elegance of the Grüner Veltliner was especially good with this stir fry, which has a little bit of heat to it. The wine toned down the spice and matched well with all the vegetables.
This wine also would pair well with fish, seafood, poultry and mild cheese. The winery also recommends it with traditional Austrian Wiener Schnitzel.
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