Franz Prager, co-founder of the Vinea Wachau, had already earned a reputation for his wines when Toni Bodenstein married into the family. Bodenstein’s passion for biodiversity and old terraces, coupled with brilliant winemaking, places Prager in the highest echelon of Austrian producers.
Smaragd is a designation of ripeness for dry wines used exclusively by members of the Vinea Wachau. The wines must have a minimum alcohol of 12.5%. The grapes are hand-harvested, typically in October and November, and are sent directly to press where they spontaneously ferment in stainless-steel tanks.
Achleiten sits east of Weißenkirchen and is one of the most famous vineyards in the Wachau. The steeply-terraced vineyard existed in Roman times. Some sections have just 40 cm of topsoil over the bedrock of Gföler Gneiss, amphibolitic stone, and slate. “Destroyed soil,” as Toni Bodenstein likes to say.
Austrian Riesling is often defined by elevated levels of dry extract thanks to a lengthy ripening period and freshness due to dramatic temperature swings between day and night. Wines from Achleiten’s highly complex soils are famously marked by a mineral note of flint or gun smoke, are intensely flavored, and reliably long-lived.
Riesling’s high acidity makes it one of the most versatile wines at the table. Riesling can be used to cut the fattiness of foods such as pork or sausages and can tame some saltiness. Conversely, it can highlight foods such as fish or vegetables in the same way a squeeze of lemon or a vinaigrette might.