The concept of “origin” can be quite complex when understanding Austria’s wines. Origin is not only a definition of the specific winegrowing region; it may also define the specific place that the wines come from and the quality – whether this be a municipality, a Großlage (large collective vineyard site) or a Ried (single vineyard).
For every winegrowing region, the three tiers (including permitted municipality names and Ried boundaries) are defined by the Regional Wine Committee.
(e.g. Weinviertel DAC or Wiener Gemischter Satz DAC …)
The typical regional wine style has been defined in a Gebietswein, which means that particular care needs to be taken to ensure consumers get what they expect from wine labelled with a region’s name. Dry white wines in this category are expected to deliver a certain lightness, freshness and fruitiness. There are also some exceptions to this though, with some Gebietswein having already achieved a more sophisticated level of expression, as in the case of Mittelburgenland DAC .
(e.g. Südsteiermark DAC Kitzeck-Sausal)
Positioned between the Gebietswein and Riedenwein, wines in this tier are expected to have more body and complexity than those in the Gebietswein tier, but above all else, they should have a pronounced character that is typical of their particular village. This can be compared to the example of Burgundy, where Gevrey-Chambertin tastes completely different to, for example, a Pommard, without even considering vineyard-specific differences. The wines in this tier bear the name of the village – or collective appellation of several wine-growing municipalities when grouping these together makes more sense than labelling wines with the individual names of lesser-known villages (similar to the use of “Côtes de Beaune Villages” instead of “Blagny”). Ortsweine are highly lucrative wines with a broad appeal, making them a very important category for the future.
(e.g. Kamptal DAC Ried Zöbinger Heiligenstein)
A “Riedenwein” or “Lagenwein” is the most specific designation of origin and naturally forms the top tier of the pyramid. These single-vineyard wines should be strategically positioned as big, complex, long-aged wines with good storage potential. Reflecting the individual character of particular vineyards, these wines are impressive when young and become even more expressive through increased ageing. Inherently, a Riedenwein should have the character of a Reserve wine. However, because simple wines with a brief élevage are still marketed under the name of the vineyard alongside outstanding quality wines, the term “Reserve” can be used to differentiate between the two. In 2023, Austria established the legal basis for the official national vineyard classification system. From now on, vineyards that have been approved as either “Erste Lage” and “Große Lage” will be able to call themselves such.
Where does Austrian wine come from? Austrianvineyards.com provides the answer to this question – with unprecedented simplicity and precision. This site brings together all of Austria’s legally defined wine origins on a single interactive map – from the bottom level, where a wine’s origin is simply defined as being Austrian, through to the next levels of the country’s 27 winegrowing regions and 458 winegrowing municipalities, to the top level of origin, where wines originate from one of the highly revered single vineyards (Rieden), of which there are more than 4,300 in Austria.