A new vineyard name was to etch itself in my mind as Pichler drew the last riesling sample we tasted—Kellerberg—from an ancient wooden barrel. Though it had only stopped fermenting weeks before, Pichler's 1988 vintage from this plot of land was an explosion of apricots and minerals on the palate. I was still catching my breath when "F. X.", as Pichler is known, began pouring another stunning series of wines. These were made from the gruner veltliner grape, an indigenous variety that accounts for 36 percent of the plantings in Austria's 140,000 acres of vineyards, and remains the most important grape variety in the Wachau—though it is likely to be overtaken by riesling in coming years. Also planted here are riesling-sylvaner (or muller-thurgau); weissburgunder (pinot blanc); feinburgunder—an Austrian synonym for chardonnay—and bits of gelber muskateller (muscat a petit grains), grauburgunder (pinot gris), neuburger, and some miscellaneous red-wine grapes. Most gruner veltliners are light, dry whites with crisp acidity and a peppery aroma. Pichler, however, makes monumental dry gruner veltliners that have all the power and richness of great white burgundies, but with a distinctive aroma of green plums, fresh herbs, and smoke. His 1995s, in particular, come as close to perfection as any wines I've encountered.