Wachau becomes Austria's 15th DAC winegrowing region

Wachau has become Austria’s newest and 15th DAC winegrowing region.

Wachau submitted the draft of a DAC regulation to the Ministry of agriculture, regions and tourism, and this has now been signed by law by federal minister Elisabeth Kostinger. The protected designation of origin Wachau DAC is now the fifteenth of its kind in Austria.

Chris Yorke, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), said: “With the Wachau, we can now welcome another important member to Austria’s DAC family. In doing this, Austria’s wine industry has taken a further step on the path of origin-based marketing. This has proven itself effective for 17 years now, and has also become recognised internationally.”

Wachau DAC wines are classified on three levels: Gebietswein (regional wine), Ortswein (“villages” wine) and Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine).

In the Gebietswein category, the traditional array of grape varieties is preserved, where 17 white and red varieties ranging from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling to Muskateller and Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Noir and Sankt Laurent are permitted. Gemischter Satz and cuvées are also allowed.

These wines will bear the name of the region coupled with “DAC” on the label. The grapes can come from anywhere in the entire winegrowing region Wachau.

Ortswein is becoming increasingly important in Austria’s landscape of origins, and the Wachau also provides for 22 designated municipalities, protected in its DAC regulation. The number of approved grape varieties is concentrated here to nine: Grüner Veltliner, Riesling, Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, Chardonnay, Neuburger, Muskateller, Sauvignon Blanc and Traminer. These must be vinified as monovarietal wines.

The top level on the pyramid of origins is Riedenwein. The most famous Wachau grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are permitted here, harvested from 157 precisely defined vineyard sites (Rieden).

Wachau DAC wines bearing the indication of a Ried on the label must not be enriched or chaptalised in any way and – like Ortswein – must exhibit hardly any noticeable cask tone, or none at all.

Thanks to this seamless concept of origins, consumers will benefit from the greater transparency and specificity of provenance, the AWMB said.

Anton Bodenstein, chairman of the Wachau Regional Wine Committee said: “This brings origins to the forefront. Wachau DAC provides geographical protection of origin down to the most detailed entity: the individual vineyard.”

Back in the 1980s, the regional protection association Vinea Wachau established the levels Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd, differentiated according to the natural alcohol content of the white – and in rare cases rosé – wines produced by its members. This well-known and valuable classification will be retained within the new DAC system.

Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) is a legal designation of origin for regionally typical Qualitätswein (quality wine) from Austria. So, if the name of a winegrowing region is coupled with the letters DAC on a wine label, the consumer can be sure of receiving a Qualitätswein typical of the region, vinified from grapes harvested exclusively in that region.

A DAC wine may only be produced from the grape varieties specified for this DAC region and must comply with all the requirements of the regulation laid down by the respective region.

There are currently fifteen DAC winegrowing regions in Austria. Wines that do not meet the DAC requirements will bear the name of the respective federal state as indication of origin.

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