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Images in the mind – wine in the glass

Two wineries with an unwavering commitment to protected origin and to Vinea Wachau’s trusted brands: Steinfeder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd®

Talking wine with Roman Horvath MW of Domäne Wachau and Robert Bodenstein from Weingut Prager

Wachau DAC and the Vinea Wachau brands – two systems Roman Horvath sees as complementary.

Now, in early November, the grape harvest has been going on for weeks. “In a cool, marginal climate like the Wachau’s, the picking time dictates the kind of wine you can make. Here the different ideas of when grapes are ripe are reflected in our Vinea classification of Steinfeder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd®,” Roman Horvath of Domäne Wachau explains. If you give the grapes time until November, you are going to pick them for Smaragd – wines with a complex structure that comes from very mature grapes and a natural concentration.

To understand Steinfeder® –
Federspiel® – Smaragd® it is not necessary to have 27 wine books in your shelf.
Roman Horvath

“I like to compare the wine styles with voices: Steinfeder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd® are like bass, baritone and tenor in singing. Every voice is equally as important but has its own way of expression,” Roman Horvath illustrates. He sees Vinea Wachau’s system as a helpful guide that navigates consumers through the variety of Wachau wine styles.

Roman Horvath manages Domäne Wachau, the largest winery
belonging to the Vinea Wachau association.
The name Smaragd® is a clear signpost on the label indicating to consumers the wine’s style.

The higher the quality
of a wine-growing region, the more
differentiated the potential styles.
Roman Horvath

While the Vinea Wachau brands distinguish the various wine styles, Wachau DAC is a signpost to guide wine enthusiasts through the Wachau as a region of origin, with the categories: regional wine (Gebietswein), local wine (Ortswein) and vineyard wine (Riedenwein). Wachau DAC  is a designation serving to protect wines, even down to the smallest unit of geographic origin – the Riede (vineyard site). Roman Horvath observes: “The two systems complement each other. Wachau DAC tells you everything you need to know about the wine’s origin. Steinfeder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd® are terms that additionally tell you about the wine’s style and character.”

Robert Bodenstein has been running the family estate in Weißenkirchen since 2019.

A change of venues: Riesling grapes are still being picked in the vineyards at the Weingut Prager estate. Selecting the grapes is a key step in the 2020 vintage. Here again it is seen that, for superior quality, there is no alternative to hand-picking, “This year it will be more difficult to get a store of Smaragd® in the cellar. The regulations of Vinea Wachau prohibit any enrichment of wines. This means that the grapes have to reach their full physiological maturity, which will be a challenge with such a wet autumn,” Robert Bodenstein explains. Using a refractometer, the vintner gauges the sugar content of the juice in the grapes, revealing the potential alcohol content of the wine later. “You can also recognise how mature a grape is by looking at the seeds. When the seeds are brown and there is no more pulp, the grape is ripe.”

The wine categories create clear images in
the minds of consumers.
Robert Bodenstein

Brown seeds mean ripe grapes.
Using a refractometer to gauge sugar content.

The Codex of Vinea Wachau commits vintners to strict rules. To Robert Bodenstein, this is a good thing: “This creates certainty for consumers – and we depend on consumer trust. That’s the reason I fully stand behind the Vinea brands of Steinfeder®, Federspiel® and Smaragd®. I think it’s a good thing for the Wachau to build on continuity. Retailers and consumers can then be sure of what they’re getting.”

Federspiel® or Smaragd®? The question conjures up clear images in the mind, this vintner thinks.  “Each of the brands represents a common denominator for taste that holds throughout the Wachau’s wide variety. Consumers can look forward to the taste of the 2020 vintage, by the way. Even though conditions have been rough, Robert Bodenstein anticipates tremendous potential. “The Federspiels already appeal to me, even this early.”