The last stop of our tour was the Franz Stierschneider Winery in Dürnstein, a very old village along the Donau, which is in the famous wine region called “the Wachau.” We got an extensive lesson on local wines, and were surprised how different even the same varietal can be depending on the precise vine and length of fermentation. Nothing is aged in oak here, even the reds (which make up only about 10% of the Wachau’s production). The “Grüner Veltliner” (or “GV”) is the most popular local varietal. Stierschneider belongs to a small group of Wachau vintners who have pledged a high level of quality (analogous to a French “cru”). The medium level “GV” was pleasant, a bit like a Spanish Rueda, slightly sweet and very dry – but the top level “Smaragd” was unlike anything I’ve tried before – slightly sweet, very dry, with notes of both apple and green pepper. Of course, I went away with a bottle of that to share with Michael at Christmas, as well as a bottle of good, complex “Blauer” red.
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