What is the purpose of DAC?
DAC clearly reflects the commitment of the winegrower to regional typicity, as the wine is often much more characterized by the region than the grape variety and sugar content of the grapes. DAC regions may use the designation of the region exclusively for one or more wines which clearly represent the character of the region. All other wines are labeled under the name of the federal state. In case a winegrowing region prefers to market various types of wine under its name it remains a normal winegrowing region.
How many DAC regions are there in Austria?
Ten (as of October 2017) out of 16 specific winegrowing regions have been legally granted DAC designated status by the Ministry of Agriculture: Weinviertel (Grüner Veltliner); Mittelburgenland (Blaufränkisch); Traisental, Kremstal and Kamptal (Grüner Veltliner, Riesling); Leithaberg (white : Grüner Veltliner, Weißburgunder (Pinot blanc), Chardonnay and/or Neuburger; red: Blaufränkisch), Eisenberg (Blaufränkisch), Neusiedlersee (Zweigelt), Wiener Gemischter Satz (Gemischter Satz) and Schilcherland (rosé from Blauer Wildbacher).
How does a DAC come into existance?
It is decisive that a consensus is reached within the region. For this reason regional representations (Regional Committees) have been established, including winegrowers and wine traders from the region, with the aim to determine the strategic orientation. If a region agrees on the introduction of a DAC by majority a draft regulation is elaborated in cooperation with experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Agriculture and the AWMB and submitted to the National Committee for approval. If the application is accepted it will be presented to the Minister and put into force by ministerial regulation.
Why is it possible for a region to define more than one variety as DAC?
Famous examples in France or Italy point out that there are various possibilities of profiling a region:
A) One grape variety – one region: e.g. Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese), Barolo/Barbaresco (Nebbiolo), Chablis (Chardonnay), in Austria, e.g. Weinviertel (Grüner Veltliner), Mittelburgenland (Blaufränkisch).
B) However there are regions which market several varieties under their regional designation: e.g. Alsace (Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir) or South Tyrol (approximately 20 varieties); in Austria: Traisental, Kremstal and Kamptal (Grüner Veltliner and Riesling).
C) Regions with a cuvèe as typical wine: e.g. Pauillac (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot). This would apply to Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve which may be produced of Zweigelt or a Zweigelt dominated cuvée. Equally the white Leithaberg may be a varietal wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Neuburger) or a blend of those.
D) Regions which market white as well as red wines under their regional designation: e.g. Hermitage or Châteauneuf-du-Pape; in Austria: Leithaberg.
Are DAC wines allowed to contain the name of a single vineyard on the label?
Yes, single vineyard Barolos or Brunellos exist too. In Burgundy the best single vineyards represent individual AOC's (e.g. Montrachet AOC, La Tâche AOC or Chambertin AOC). This inflation of AOC's is of disadvantage and confuses the consumer, however, fascinates the expert.
What does "Reserve" mean?
Most winegrowing regions differentiate between classic, dry, medium-bodied and opulent, dry wines which are harvested later and characterized by the additional designation "Reserve" on the label (e.g. Kremstal DAC Reserve). They are allowed a longer period of maturation and have thus to be brought onto the market later than normal DAC wines.
Why are there only 10 DAC regions?
Some regions were offered the definition of a region-typical wine style "on a silver platter" (e.g. Mittelburgenland or Eisenberg for Blaufränkisch). Others finally decided in favor of the DAC strategy although several grape varieties would have been possible (e.g. Weinviertel for Grüner Veltliner). Anyway, the development of a DAC is a democratic process and takes its time. Among the non-DAC regions, Wagram (Grüner Veltliner) and Thermenregion (Zierfandler/Rotgipfler, St.Laurent/Pinot Noir) have already clearly defined their focus. However, the decision making process and formal introduction of the DAC takes its time and a lot of encouragement at the basis. Some regions (e.g. Vulkanland Steiermark or Carnuntum) have not yet developed a dominating wine style. However, it is evidently recognizable that all regions put efforts in defining their profile, as clearly defined regional characteristics have undoubtedly advantages on the market.
Isn't that all much too complicated?
No, because the DAC designation radically simplifies the whole system. Up to now, every region was allowed to market 36 quality grape varieties under their designation. This contributed to hopeless confusion on the part of the consumer. The limitation to one or a few wine styles under the name of the region leads to an enormous simplification. It is only that an innovation takes time until the consumer associates the designation of the region with the corresponding wine style. This is a learning process which doesn't work overnight.