Wachau Panorama

Spotlight on terroir performance: Achleiten

Julia Harding MW assesses the 2011 Austrian white wines for jancisrobinson.com

Julia Harding MW is one of London’s and the world’s most prolific and respected wine critics. Known as the "right hand" of Jancis Robinson MW, Harding is the assistant editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine and co-author at the highly influential jancisrobinson.com as well as co-author (with Jancis Robinson and José Vouillamoz) of THE reference book for vines “Wine Grapes”. Harding is known as a very strict and impartial wine critic and awarded the 2011 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Achleiten an impressive 17.5 from 20 points. She described it with: “rounded creamy citrus character” and “rich in a very fine, definite structure” with “mineral length”.

The Achleiten vineyard located near the village of Weissenkirchen in the Wachau is legendary for wines with inimitable flinty-mineral structure. “It is a large vineyard for the Wachau, and the soil and microclimate varies greatly within the site,” explains Roman Horvath MW, director of Domäne Wachau. Like the Loibenberg and Kellerberg, the upper Achleiten is based on Gfoehler gneiss. In contrast, the lower part of the vineyard is comprised of calcareous migmatite and amphibolite that has a high concentration of minerals such as hornblende.
Achleiten gets its name from old German words for oak (Ach) and steep slope (Leiten). Indeed, the forested part of Achleiten has an extreme cooling effect on the entire vineyard, especially in the evenings when the cool forest winds rush down the sun-warmed rocky slope.
“Vines can thrive in the day and night temperature differences in the Achleiten vineyard late into the autumn due to the site’s proximity to the climate regulating Danube River. Grapes can achieve a high level of ripeness while still remaining healthy without shrivelling.” says Roman Horvath.

Single-vineyard Smaragd® wines like the Achleiten are highly complex and benefit from extended maturation. They will not be released on the market until September to allow them necessary time to harmonize and mature. Other Smaragd® wines, for example from the Terrassen series or Weissenkirchen, were released on the officially allowed date of May 1st.

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