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Sekt g.U. from Austria – the Three-tier Quality Pyramid

2015 will go down in the Sekt history as a milestone for the Austrian Sekt sector. Under the leadership of the Austrian Sekt Committee, founded just in 2013, and with the energetic participation of the Sekt producers, the structure of a three-tier quality pyramid for Austrian Sekt has been established. The top category in the pyramid is on a par with the highest standards maintained by the world's leading sparkling wines – such as Champagne or Franciacorta – and in certain aspects, even surpasses them.

This proposal was agreed upon by the National Committee, and submitted to the Agricultural Minister, who gives it force of law by means of decree in 2016.

In principle, the regulation applies that “Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin” (“Österreichischer Sekt mit geschützter Ursprungsbezeichnung”) may be offered on the market exclusively in connexion with the supplemental terms “Klassik“, “Reserve“ or “Grosse Reserve” (Grande Reserve), under the appurtenant conditions laid down by decree. In this, the product designation will be composed from the category designation (“Qualitätsschaumwein” or “Sekt”), the name of the protected designation of origin (federal state and – where applicable – municipality or district thereof) and the term “Protected Designation of Origin” (“geschützte Ursprungsbezeichnung”). The term “Hauersekt” (tirage, disgorgement and expedition performed by the grape grower) may additionally be used.

Three-tier quality pyramid of Austrian Sekt g.U. (P.D.O.)

Grapes hand harvested and pressed in a single municipality, exclusively traditional bottle fermentation, minimum of 30 months maturation on the lees
Grapes hand harvested and pressed in a single Austrian federal state, exclusively traditional bottle fermentation, minimum 18 months maturation on the lees
Grapes harvested in one Austrian federal state, all methods suitable for sparkling wine production allowed, minimum 9 months maturation on the lees
Each level encompasses further quality assurance standards. The focus here includes the work in the vineyard, harvesting, hand picking, packing height, rate of yield and gentle pressing.

The first level "Klassik" establishes stricter minimum requirements for Austrian sparkling wine of quality. Above all, it requires that the grapes must have their origins in one of Austria’s federal states, as well as stipulating a minimum period of nine months spent on the lees independant of the production process. As of the second level "Reserve", Sekt must be produced according to the traditional method of bottle fermentation. The grapes and base wines must be grown and vinified in one of Austria’s federal states, and a maturation period of at least eighteen months on the lees is prescribed. In the top category of bottle-fermented Sekt "Große Reserve", the grapes may be harvested only from a single winegrowing community (such as Poysdorf, Langenlois, Gols or Gamlitz), whereby vineyard site designations become possible as well. After a minimum of thirty months bottle-fermentation and maturing on the lees, Sekt in this category may first be released to the market three years after the harvest.

The individual levels incorporate additional standards focussed upon ensuring quality, including viticultural practices, hand harvesting, level of packing, size of yield and gentle pressing. In cooperation with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, a marketing strategy to effectively institute these new categories will be designed. This marketing strategy is predicated upon the embedding of this stringent, quality-oriented policy in the Austrian Wine Law, as determined in 2015.

Sekt g.U. Klassik

Requirements for the use of the product designation Sekt g.U. Klassik:

  1. harvest of the grapes used for the base wine in a single federal state
  2. maturing on the yeasts for a minimum of nine months, regardless of the method of production
  3. release to the consumer not before 22 October of the year following the harvest
  4. an extant alcohol content that is stated on the label, with a maximum of 12.5%
  5. mandatory indication of an Austrian federal state as the Protected Designation of Origin; a more detailed geographic indication than the federal state is not permissible

Sekt g.U. Reserve

Requirements for the use of the product designation Austrian Sekt g.U. Reserve:

  1. harvest and pressing (maximum rate of yield 60%) of the grapes for the base wine in one single federal state
  2. mandatory hand harvesting and whole-cluster pressing
  3. maturing on the lees for a minimum of 18 months
  4. production exclusively by means of traditional bottle fermentation (“méthode traditionnelle”)
  5. release to the consumer no earlier than 22 October of the second year following the harvest
  6. a residual sugar content of no more than 12 g/l
  7. mandatory indication of an Austrian federal state; no more detailed geographical indication is permissible

Sekt g.U. Grosse Reserve

Requirements for the use of the product designation Sekt g.U. Grosse Reserve:

1.  harvest and pressing (maximum rate of yield 50%) of the grapes for the base wine in one single municipality

2.  mandatory hand harvesting and whole-cluster pressing

3.  maturing on the lees for a minimum of 30 months

4.  production exclusively by means of traditional bottle fermentation (“méthode traditionnelle”)

5.  release to the consumer no earlier than 22 October of the third year following the harvest

6.  a residual sugar content of no more than 12 g/l

7.  mandatory indication of an Austrian federal state as Protected Designation of Origin

8.  mandatory indication of a municipality (or district thereof); at least 85% of the grapes must come from this municipality or district.

9.  the additional indication of Grosslage or Ried (single vineyard) is possible.

Examination by the Federal Viticultural Authorities

Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Klassik, Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Reserve and Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Grosse Reserve may only be offered for sale after their marketability has been officially determined by the Federal Office for Viticulture in Eisenstadt or the Higher Federal Technical College and the Federal Agency for Production of Wine and Fruit in Klosterneuburg.

A picture shows the Sekt banderole
© AWMB

Specific indicativ Symbol "Geschützter Ursprung. Geprüfte Qualität."
("Protected Designation of Origin. Certified Quality.")

Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Klassik, Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Reserve and Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin – Grosse Reserve may only be transferred to the consumer or poured at the place of distribution when the bottle is provided with the indication "Österreichischer Sekt geschützter Ursprung" ("Austrian Sekt with Protected Designation of Origin").

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Three-tier pyramid

Brochure Sekt g.U.

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