Magisterial Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from dramatic riverside slopes
The splendorous Wachau, Lower Austria’s westernmost wine region, is home to the country’s best-known wines internationally, producing Grüner Veltliner and Riesling of unparalleled power, depth, and longevity. Though it occupies just a 12-mile stretch of the Danube, the Wachau is home to over 650 winegrowers, most of whom farm modestly sized holdings on the region’s unforgivingly steep, terraced slopes. Historically speaking, the Wachau’s most coveted sites are found along the northern banks of the Danube; here, vineyards tilt southward like solar panels, ensuring full phenolic maturity even in difficult vintages. However, as the climate has warmed over the past couple of decades, growers on these northern banks have occasionally struggled to produce wines of finesse and balance. As is the case in winegrowing regions across Europe, what used to be sweet spots for ripening now suffer from an excess of warmth with increasing frequency. Today, in fact, the vineyards on the southern side of the Danube, planted on north-facing slopes typically less extreme in incline, attain ripeness with greater certainty each vintage than they did in years past, and wines from these less solar sites tend to display a sense of effortless freshness and lift that sometimes eludes their neighbors across the river.