Two years ago, Austria put its national grape, the grüner veltliner, to the test with a taste-off against a host of internationally acclaimed chardonnays.

Two years ago, Austria put its national grape, the grüner veltliner, to the test with a taste-off against a host of internationally acclaimed chardonnays. The result was a resounding victory for the home side. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, the grape was put to the test again in London last month.

Eighteen Austrian rieslings were pitted against 18 top rieslings from Germany, Alsace and Australia chosen by Jancis Robinson and a dozen odd merchants and press. The result was another emphatic Austrian triumph with eight of the top 12 wines including the highest scorer, an astonishingly youthful 1990 Riesling Weissenkirchen Achleiten from Prager.

France took second place with the seamless 1990 Clos Ste Hune from Trimbach while Germany scored third and fourth with Georg Breuer's 1997 Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Rheingau and the underrated Christmann's 2002 Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten Spätlese Trocken from Pfalz, the highest-rated of the younger rieslings. Then came the roll call of top Austrian names, F X Pichler, Loibner, Knoll, Hiedler, Nikolaihof and Bründlmayer.

For an idea of what the fuss is all about, the latest vintage of the top scorer, Toni Bodenstein's 2003 Riesling Weissenkirchen Achleiten Trocken, Smaragd, Weingut Prager, is available from Berry Bros & Rudd, at £24.25 a bottle (when bought as part of a case). It's a subtly aromatic rich white, hinting at fresh pears and spice, the fruit is intense and minerally with a racy acidity that cuts through the richness and powerful 13.5 per cent alcohol with tangily refreshing precision. Try one now and stash a few bottles away.

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