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 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.
Wachstum, meaning “Growth” or “Cru,” is a nursery for Toni Bodenstein who planted 25 different nursery clones of Riesling 460 meters in elevation at the top of Hinter Seiber. When planted in 1990, the goal of Wachstum Bodenstein was to preserve biodiversity. First produced in 1993, it is now one of Prager’s most sought-after wines.
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. Wachstum Bodenstein’s high elevation, bordering the forest at the top of the mountain, produces one of Prager’s most mineral and finessed Rieslings.
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.