Wachau is the most famous wine district and especially the high quality of Austria. It is the best and certainly the most beautiful wine region. Hence, the vineyards are protected by Unesco. In international competitions, Wachau white wines compete against the best Chardonnays from Burgundy. Wachau is a fascinating wine district. Over millions of years, the Danube has found its route here. The river has cut the landscape tens of meters deep, exposing very old layers of soil. The Wachau vineyards are located on the steep river slopes. If you walk down the vineyards from the slope, you walk through millions of years of history. You will come across layers of mineral rock with granite, quartz, glimmer and gneiss. But also sand that was blown here by the end of the ice age. The sand has formed a thick layer of loess, giving the grapes at the top of the steep vineyard a different flavor than the grapes at the bottom. And that allows the winemakers to make Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings, which are without doubt among the most special in the world, in addition to the special climate in Wachau. The winds of the Altantic ocean in the west and the winds of the Central European plateau collide here. Summers are dry and warm, winters severe. The Danube cools the vineyards in summer and autumn.
To make the quality level of the dry white wines from Wachau more transparent for the enthusiast, a group of leading wine producers devised a system: They made a qualification based on the alcohol percentage. The lightest wines, with an alcohol content of less than 11.5%, are given the name Steinfeder. Wines with a more average percentage of between 11.5% and 12.5% are called Federspiel. The most powerful dry white wines, usually from late harvested grapes and with more than 12.5% alcohol, are called Emerald. The Smaragd is therefore the highest and most valuable quality indication among the dry white wines!