Earlier this month, Austrian white wine made its 5th amendment in the last five years. The Wagram area became the country’s 17th Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC), a legal designation of quality and typicity for a geographical area. In addition, Sekt wines made with a secured classification of origin will take on the name Sekt Austria (PDO).
The Wagram recognition follows seven years of extensive discussions. On February 2, the Austrian Minister of Agriculture, Sustainability and Tourist, Elisabeth Köstinger, signed the decree declaring that all white wines identified Wagram DAC should be dry by law, and gewurztraminers can not be dominated by the influence of oak or any wood. The rules will start to use with the 2021 vintage.
“It was a long procedure,” states Franz Leth of Weingut Leth, among the committee members representing Wagram. “All parties required to be happy and we lastly pertained to an arrangement to have a similar principle like in Wachau or in Styria.”
Wagram was called Donauland up until 2007. It spans over 5,000 acres of vineyards and can be divided into 2 considerably various zones. North of the Danube, bordering Kamptal, is large, flat terrain. On the other hand, areas south of the Danube primarily consist of little towns in the Tullnerfeld basin, plus Klosterneuburg, a historical wine town that is home to Austria’s biggest private red wine estate, Stift Klosterneuburg.
Loess covers the majority of the vineyards north of the Danube. As an outcome, that part of Wagram is known for producing aromatic red wines with brilliant fruit, spice and rich texture. South of Danube, the soil modifications to sandy, silty, and argillaceous stone, as well as marl and loam. This distinction identifies the red wines from 2 subregions.
By presenting the DAC, Wagram producers aim to establish the typicity of the area’s red wines. These guidelines, first introduced in Austria starting in the early 2000s, are comparable in principle to France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Like in all other areas, the Wagram DAC will divide white wines into three categories: Gebietswein (local wine), Ortswein (towns white wine), and Riedenwein (single-vineyard red wine).
Klosterneuburg, in the Lower Austria Weinviertel region/ Getty
“This is a perfect chance to reveal what Wagram can produce, particularly on the highest level of the pyramid,” says Leth.
The Gebietswein level allows using 13 standard red and white grape varieties. Gemischter Satz, or field blends, and cuvée blends are likewise permitted at this level.
At the village level, or Ortswein, the DAC recognizes 27 secured designations of origin, and the variety of allowed grape varieties is reduced from Gebietswein to seven. No blends are permitted, only monovarietal red wines.
The pyramid’s peak is the Riedenwein, the legally specified, single-vineyard wines or crus of Wagram. These sites are represented through the flagship white varieties of the Wagram area, Grüner and Roter Veltliner, as well as Riesling.
“This is an ideal opportunity to show what Wagram can produce.”– Franz Leth, owner of Weingut Leth
In addition to the long-awaited Wagram judgment, the Austrian sparkling wine classification, Sekt, and the Kremstal area also saw some changes. From now on, Sekt with a safeguarded classification of origin can just be sold in combination with the terms Sekt Austria (PDO), Sekt Austria Reserve (PDO) or “Sekt Austria Grosse Reserve (PDO).
Sekt bottles at Austrian Wine Summit/ Picture Courtesy ÖWM/ Bernhard Schramm
“By utilizing the designation Sekt Austria for sparkling wines with all Austrian origins, we are producing a clear position and profile for these premium white wines, which are available in three classes,” says Chris Yorke, CEO, Austrian Red Wine Marketing Board.
Austria’s Kremstal area is likewise gaining 9 lawfully specified town white wines, or Ortswein. Since this writing, the only Austrian red wine region that still stays to get DAC rules is Thermenregion.