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At the moment, there seems to be hardly a conversation about the Wachau among wine lovers in which there is no talk of thick, alcoholic and botrytised wines, because of which one would rather give the area a wide berth. But the reality today is completely different. It is true that the high-alcohol and powerful wines still exist, but at least from the hands of the best producers they have an undeniable class - and certainly also the capacity for development that once made them famous, and which can still be checked today by looking at old bottles.

However, these very powerful versions no longer make up the majority of all top wines produced in the Wachau. Even among the Smaragd wines, the alcohol levels today are on average much more moderate than they are said to be. Elegance now clearly comes before power in most cases.

Those who only look at the Smaragde are missing out anyway. Not only can the Federspiele also be first-class, even among the producers who do not belong to Vinea Wachau, and who therefore do not use the traditional terms Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd for the different weight classes, there are absolute top producers. Among them are also those whose top wines sometimes remain far below the alcohol levels that would be necessary for a Smaragd, for example.

But in other respects, too, the old-fashioned image that the Wachau has among many wine lovers today is no longer true at all. Among the 250 or so wines tasted for this BEST OF are not only many astonishingly good representatives of hitherto little-known wineries that definitely deserve more attention. The number of convincing wines from rather unconventional production methods also seems to be steadily increasing.

Collection of the Year: Veyder-Malberg Winery

His lightest Rieslings and Veltliners have barely 12% alcohol and yet are among the most complex and expressive wines of the entire region; the higher-alcohol versions remain fresh and playful for all their power; Peter Veyder-Malberg manages, if necessary single-handedly, to sweep all prejudices against the Wachau off the table. His wines need time and a lot of attention if you want to get to the bottom of them; they defy superficial observation. But you don't invest anything here for nothing: they give everything back twice.

Discovery of the Year: Winery Machherndl

Erich Machherndl jr. is undoubtedly one of the most unconventional and courageous winegrowers in the Wachau. Organic farming is a matter of course for him (certification will be completed in 2018), that the wines should taste the way they always have is not at all. Because they, too, are often idiosyncratic, especially since Machherndl has no reservations about "orange" and has long since experimented with mash fermentation in white wines as well. His wines take you along - but you have to want to go along with them. Those who stubbornly insist on conventions will rarely be happy here, but those who are open to new discoveries will find one of the most exciting wineries in the entire Wachau and wines they won't soon forget.

About the wines

We tasted around 250 wines for this BEST OF. We have listed the absolute best here. Links to all the results can be found at the end of the article.

Print PDF in German and English go here

Grüner Veltliner


Pinot Blanc



Links to all wines tasted:

Click here for the Wachau glossary.

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