Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A brand new DAC

In a press release dated April 5th, 2012, the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) announced that the Agricultural and Environmental Ministry had decreed that as of the 2011 vintage, certain "region-typical quality wines" from Burgenland could be released under a new appellation, the Neusiedlersee DAC.  This post will examine the new DAC as well as the namesake Burgenland sub-region with which it is associated.

The Burgenland wine growing region is divided into four sub-regions -- Neusiedlersee, Neusiedlersee-Hügelland, Mittelburgenland, Sudbergenland -- each, with the exception of Neusiedlersee, of which was associated with a DAC (Districtus Austriae Contrallatus; controlled designation of Austrian origin): Neusiedlersee-Hügelland with the Leithaberg DAC; Mittlebergenland with the Mittelbergenland DAC; and Sudbergenland with the Eisenberg DAC.  With the announcement of the Neusiedlersee DAC, all of the Burgenland sud-regions now have associated DACs.  Let us take a closer look at the Neusiedlersee sub-region.

The Neusiedlersee wine growing sub-region of Burgenland lies on the western side of the large, shallow steppe lake from which its name is derived and stretches from the town of Gols in the north to Seewinkel on the Hungarian border to the south.

The area experiences what is referred to regionally as a Pannonian climate -- hot, dry summers and cold winters -- which is moderated somewhat by the presence of the lake and numerous shallow salt lakes that disturb the regularity of the vast enclosed vineyards that are characteristic of the sub-region.  The area experiences high humidity and autumnal fogs, perfect conditions for the formation of botrytis and the associated sweet wines.

The soil in Neusiedlersee is diverse: close to the lake it is sandy sediment while the soils in the northern part of the zone range from black earth to gravel interspersed with chalk and limestone deposits.

Vineyards cover a total of 7,649 hectares and both red (Blauer Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) and white (Welschriesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay) varieties are supported.  The region had previously been known for its sweet dessert wines (Berenauslese, TBA, Eiswein, Strohwein) from primarily Welschriesling but, over the past 20 years, the red wines made with from Zweigelt have been drawing notice.

Neusiedlersee DAC

While it is the eighth Austrian DAC, Neusiedlersee DAC, according to the AWMB, "... is the first DAC to focus on the dominant domestic red grape variety, Blauer Zweigelt."

Blauer Zweigelt is a cross of the St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch varieties that was engineered at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology by one Fritz Zweigelt in 1922.  This early ripening, vigorous variety is resistant to frost, drought, and many vine diseases and, while robust enough to function as a monovarietal, blends well with Blaufränkisch, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wines from this variety are typically fruity and spicy with good acidity, moderate alcohol, and low tannin levels.  Zweigelt is an excellent food wine which pairs well with fish, spicy foods, and white meat.

The ministerial decree announcing the formation of the DAC allows for the marketing of the new DAC beginning with the 2011 vintage and distinguishes between a Neusiedlersee DAC and a Neusiedlersee DAC Reserve.  The legal requirements for both elaborations are provided in the table below.

© Wine -- The View From Orlando

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