Districtus Austriae Controllatus

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Districtus Austriae Controllatus (Latin for Controlled District of Austria), DAC, is a recently introduced classification for wine in Austria loosely modelled on the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system [1] and works coupled with a ripeness-based classification scale that shares a lot of nomenclature with the German Prädikat system. Regulatory standards in general and minimum must weights in particular are higher than in the German system (although warmer summers mean this is easier to achieve.) All Austrian wines have a red and white striped "Banderole" around the neck or on top of the cork, which must be purchased by the producer to ensure that official quotas are not breached and to provide a tracking system.

DACs are created for specific regions to establish clearly the local stylistic profile, in alignment with the French concept of terroir. Like in AOC, DAC wines are labelled only with the regional name and not the varietal unless more than one varietal is allowed. Wines are also labelled according to sugar content and wines carrying the name of a grape variety or a vintage year must be composed of at least 85% of that grape or vintage, respectively.[2]

Background[edit]

From the late 1980s, and more so in the 1990s, Austrian wine moved into new styles, which primarily meant less semi-sweet and sweet white wines, and more dry white wines and red wines. For these dry wines, the Prädikatswein designations (such as Spätlese or Auslese) shared with the German wine classification system, were seen as less suitable. Just as in Germany, much of the high-end dry wines therefore ended up using a designation, Qualitätswein, which in principle was seen as below the Prädikatswein. In Wachau, regional designations for dry wines were created as a response; Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. However, several organisations pressed in the 1990s for a different national system to be introduced, with "appellation-style" designations based on geographical origin rather than on must weight, with regulations for each DAC regarding allowed grape varieties and wine styles.

The result was the Districtus Austriae Controllatus system, the framework regulations of which was introduced in 2001.[3] The first DAC region to be approved was Weinviertel DAC, which happened in 2003, with the designation possible to use from the 2002 vintage.

Rules for individual DACs are developed by regional interprofessional committees which include representation from grape growers and wine producers, wine cooperatives, and wine merchants. The DAC requirements must at least correspond to those for Austrian Qualitätswein and the underlying European Union wine regulations, but the committees are free to set higher standards for a specific DAC.[3] Each wine to be sold as DAC has to be submitted to a tasting committee. It has been common for the DACs to include two quality levels, Klassik for a "standard" DAC wine, and the additional designation Reserve for a DAC wine which fulfills slightly stricter or different requirements.

Effects of DAC introduction[edit]

Once a wine region receives DAC status, the region's name may only be used for wines that fulfill the DAC regulations. Other wines, such as those made from other grape varieties, are no longer allowed to use the region's name. This typically means that name of a larger wine region, of which the DAC forms a part, has to be used instead, e.g., a less specific geographical origin is used. Thus, it is not certain that all Austrian wine regions will opt for introducing the DAC system.

DAC regions[edit]

As of 2012, there are 8 DACs.[1][4]

Current Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) regions
DAC Additional designation First vintage Allowed grape varieties Alcohol level Wine style
Weinviertel DAC[5] (white only) Klassik 2002 Grüner Veltliner Min 12% Aromatic, spicy and peppery; no oak or botrytis notes
Reserve 2009 Min 13% Dry, full-bodied and spicy, oak aging and subtle botrytis notes allowed
Mittelburgenland DAC[6] (red only) Klassik 2005 Blaufränkisch In general min 12.5%, max 13%.
Single vineyard site: min 13%, max 13.5%.
Fruit-driven, spicy, full-bodied, matured in either stainless steel tanks, oak casks or oak barrels
Reserve Min 13% Fruit-driven, spicy, full-bodied, must be matured in either large oak casks or small oak barrels
Traisental DAC[7] (white only) Klassik 2006 Grüner Veltliner or Riesling Min 12% Grüner Veltliner: aromatic, spicy, no botrytis or oak notes.
Riesling: intensive, full-bodied, aromatic, mineral notes, no botrytis or oak notes
Reserve Min 13%
Kremstal DAC[8] (white only) Klassik 2006 Grüner Veltliner or Riesling Min 12% Grüner Veltliner: fresh, fruit-driven aromas, aromatic, gentle spice, no botrytis or oak notes.
Riesling: aromatic, intensive stone fruit aromas, elegant, mineral notes, no botrytis or oak notes
Reserve Min 13% As above with the following differences: opulent, full-bodied with density and with great length, pronounced varietal character. Subtle botrytis and oak aging aromas are allowed.
Kamptal DAC[9] (white only) Klassik 2008 Grüner Veltliner or Riesling Min 12% Grüner Veltliner: fruit-driven, gentle spice, no botrytis or no oak notes.
Riesling: delicate, aromatic, intensive fruit, elegant, mineral notes, no oak notes, none or only little botrytis
Reserve Min 13% As above with the following differences: opulent, full-bodied with a lingering finish, pronounced regional and varietal character. Subtle botrytis or oak aging notes are allowed.
Leithaberg DAC, white[10] 2009 Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Neuburger, Grüner Veltliner, alone or as a blend Min 12.5%, max 13.5% Regionally typicity in taste and bouquet. Fruity, spicy bouquet with primary fruit aromas. Compact, spicy, delicate taste with minerals, little or no use of oak.
Leithaberg DAC, red[10] 2008 Min 85% Blaufränkisch, may be blended with up to 15% St. Laurent, Zweigelt or Pinot noir
Eisenberg DAC[11] (red only) Klassik 2009 Blaufränkisch Min 12.5%, max 13% Fruit-driven, mineral and spicy aromas, little or not notable oak aromas
Reserve 2008 Min 13% Fruity, mineral and spicy notes, full-bodied. (May have oak aromas.)
Neusiedlersee DAC[12] (red only) Klassik 2011 Zweigelt (a small amount of an international variety is acceptable) Min 12% Typical for the variety, fruity, spicy, aging in oak barrels or stainless steel
Reserve 2010 Min 60% Zweigelt, the rest indigenous grape varieties Min 13% Typical for the variety, fruity, spicy, powerful, aging in traditional large oak casks or small oak barrels (barriques)

References[edit]