In 1983, Franz Hirtzberger helped establish the Vinea Wachau Nobilis Districtus, an organization formed to preserve the unique viticultural heritage of the Wachau, a region of Austria mentioned in Carolingian texts dating to the year 830. The group evaluates Wachau wines, and to each it issues one of three quality ratings: Steinfeder, Federspiel, or Smaragd. Steinfeder wines reach a maximum 11 percent alcohol, while Federspiel is equivalent to the German Kabinett designation. The last category, Smaragd—or “emerald,” in reference to the hue of the region’s lizards—is reserved for wines from the warmest locations. The explosive Franz Hirtzberger 2004 Riesling Smaragd “Hochrain” Wachau is masterfully racy, with bright citrus and keen spice.
Weingut Franz Hirtzberger