Monday, March 15, 2010

Eisenberg: A New DAC in Austria

I received a press release this morning from the AWMB (the Austrian Wine Marketing Board) announcing the recognition of a new DAC, or Districtus Austriae Controllatus, the Austrian wine world’s definitive appellation. The press release says that the wines of the new, specific Eisenberg DAC, in the more generic Burgenland appellation, are “characterised by a distinctive spicy minerality while reflecting the terroir of the Südburgenland wine-growing area...”

This is good news for fans of Austrian wine in particular, as well as for the Austrian wine industry in general. After all, the identification and classification of ever more specific appellations within the country not only makes it easier for consumers to differentiate between the various parts of Austria’s wine-producing areas, but it also highlights the distinct differences between them as manifested in the wines themselves.

In other words, just as, say, Pauillac and St.-Julien are home to two uniquely different expressions of the larger Bordeaux region, so, too, is this naming of the Eisenberg DAC an identification of a unique, special area within the overarching Burgenland appellation.

Here, then, are the defining characteristics of the Eisenberg DAC, as noted in the press release:

“Like all of the other DACs, Eisenberg DAC is subject to the general conditions and requirements for Austrian quality wine. Specifically, Eisenberg DAC wines must be produced from 100% Blaufränkisch grapes.

“Eisenberg DAC stands for the typical, fruity and mineral-spicy Blaufränkisch, which is further characterised by the loamy, mineral-rich soils of the Südburgenland wine-growing area. The wines can be matured either in steel tanks or in wooden barrels, but the wines should show no – or else barely noticeable – wood tone.

“Eisenberg DAC wines also may be marketed with the additional designation of ‘Reserve.’ These are complex wines with great storage potential. They must be matured in large wooden barrels or in barriques, allowing for the aromas and flavours of Blaufränkisch to be complemented by wood notes.

“The first Eisenberg DAC vintage is 2009, and the wines can come on the market no earlier than September 1st of the year following the harvest. For Eisenberg DAC Reserve, the first vintage is 2008; these wines can be released for sale no earlier than March 1st of the second year following the harvest.”

This means that the first Eisenberg DAC wines will hit the market on September 1, 2010 at the earliest. In the meantime, a bit of homework now--on the wines of Austria in general and those produced from the Blaufränkisch grape variety in particular--is in order.

In other words, drink up: It's the tastiest homework you can imagine.


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