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 Mittelburgenland DAC …)
The Gebietswein (“regional” wine) tier forms the base of the origin pyramid – the style of these wines is representative of the whole of that winegrowing region. For example, dry white wines in this category are typically light, fresh or fruity, but there are also exceptions to this, such as a regional wine that has a more powerful style that’s brimming with character (e.g. Leithaberg DAC ).
(e.g. Südsteiermark DAC Kitzeck-Sausal)
Situated between the Gebietswein and Riedenwein tiers, Ortswein refers to wines from a particular village or municipality. Wines in this tier are expected to have more body and complexity than those in the Gebietswein tier, but above all else, these wines should have a pronounced character that is typical of their particular village or municipality. Just like in Burgundy, Gevrey-Chambertin tastes completely different to, for example, a Pommard, without even mentioning vineyard-specific differences. These differences are explained by highly localised climatic conditions and soil composition, or due to historically site-specific winegrowing styles. The wines bear the name of the cadastral municipality, or the Großlage (large collective vineyard site) in which several cadastral municipalities are grouped if the latter makes more sense than using the names of individual, lesser-known communities (similar to the use of “Côtes de Beaune Villages” instead of “Blagny”). Wines in the Ortswein tier are highly lucrative and have a broad appeal, making them a key category for the future. During the DAC definition process, the Regional Wine Committee ascertains which villages/communities/collective vineyard sites (i) display their own individual character, or (ii) have already established a market reputation, before these are allowed to label their wines as Ortswein.
(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, not all DAC regions have established this three-tier system of more specific designations of origin yet. While simple, briefly aged wines labelled with the name of the vineyard are still marketed alongside big single-vineyard wines, the term “Reserve” can be used for clarification purposes.