The Romanic wine system
- Wines named and defined according to their origins are not exchangeable! In Austria, we‘ve already gone through a painful experience process, when large amounts of Grüner Veltliner, Welschriesling, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch were imported from Hungary and consumed by variety-oriented Austrians who, in good faith, believed they were drinking Austrian wine. More recently, the designation 'Wein' (previously Tafelwein, or table wine) is legally allowed to name both the varietal and vintage on the label, and therefore an increased awareness of specific origin and regional typicity will play a vital role in marketing activities.
- The Romanic wine system also has a defined taste profile. A Chianti, for example, needs to taste like a regionally typical Chianti every year; the wine must have a clear, concise definition (varieties, vinification, maturing style, etc.). All of these points are defined and examined by professionals (grape growers, producers, merchants etc.) within the wine-growing region of Chianti. This system enables experienced wine tasters from different segments of the wine trade to define the taste profile of a regionally typical wine, within their local wine or inter-professional committee (the co-operation between the appointed representatives in the local committees). The benefit of these autonomous bodies is that the designated professional groups are in a position to fully understand the elements and factors of the region, and use this knowledge and experience to examine, and ultimately create, wines with regional character and distinctive, non-exchangeable qualities.
The previously mentioned issue with pseudo-Austrian varietal wines from Hungary (which occurred during the end of the 1990s), rapidly led to the implementation of the Romanic wine system in Austria. A slight amendment to the Austrian Wine Law enabled each wine-growing region to establish its own local inter-professional committee, and proposals for region-typical wines could then be created. Only a regionally typical wine of a specific variety can carry the name of the region itself. In order to convey this to the consumer, the wine label contains the DAC designation, or Districtus Austriae Controllatus, literally meaning the controlled designation of Austrian origin, instead of 'Qualitätswein' (quality wine). As the region is the deciding factor, it is crucial that the geographical name is prominently placed before the DAC abbreviation.
A DAC wine is not a new type of wine. Based on present Austrian quality wine legislation, DAC wines are those which, especially in taste, specifically reflect their designated Austrian wine-growing region. Therefore, Austria adheres to an appellation system, similar to those in renowned wine-growing regions, such as Italy (Chianti and Soave, with the designations DOCG/DOC); France (Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chablis, with the AOC/AC designations), and Spain (Rioja DOCa and DO designations).
The Austrian system allows other grape varieties as well as non-conventional styles of the designated variety (and thus do not adhere to the DAC requirements), to remain classified as Quality wine. In these cases, the label displays the relevant wine-growing region, for example Niederösterreich, Burgenland, Steiermark or Wien for Vienna, and the wide variety of Austrian wines is preserved.