What does DAC mean?
Well, I actually got to read this term on a bottle, and never really asked about it, untill at one wine tasting event, someone mentioned it. I didn’t quite understood them, so I went into reading about it and here I used some websites which explained DAC in a layman language.
It all started in 2002, an idea from Weinviertel. It is the biggest, most diffuse vine growing region with a third of the entire country’s vine plantings, and with arguably one of the least well-recognized names, even now. It’s easy to understand that pinning its colors to the mast of a single grape variety might help the region to develop a clearer image both domestically and on export markets, even though at least 35 different grape varieties are grown in the region.
What DAC does, is find which one or two grape varieties each region has been doing best for some years. It then retro-fits these varieties in each region into an appellation system, enshrining in law the ‘typical’ style for each selected grape variety that has evolved over the last quarter of a century and longer.
The idea is that consumers, rather than being confused by the plethora of producers and varieties, will be able to choose a DAC wine, knowing approximately what style of wine to expect, as they might do now for Bordeaux or Côtes du Rhône.
Another major benefit of an appellation system is geographic protection. The EU brought in new wine laws in 2009, effectively bringing wine under the same labeling as food, for example Parma ham can only come from Parma, Stilton can only come from three named counties in England, Jersey Royal potatoes from Jersey etc. All have a ‘protected designation of origin’ or PDO. It protects a unique product/place combination.
The new wine laws effectively made all top level wine appellations the equivalent of PDO – so AoC in France, DOC/G in Italy, DO/Ca in Spain … and DAC in Austria are all PDO. Some producers may choose to label their wines as such, while others may keep to the well established monikers.
DAC wine must conform to certain style parameters, agreed within each region, and it is awarded on an annual basis by a blind-tasting panel. And it highlights that if DAC is meeting minimum standards then this must be good news for consumers. Wines that have failed the DAC taste test are labelled just with the generic region. In the case of Weinviertel, Niederösterreich.
Any so-called ‘quality wines’ (one of those EU definitions, meaning PDO wines) from grüner veltliner made outside of the DAC rules in Weinviertel, and all wines made from any of the other 30+ grape varieties grown in Weinviertel must be labelled simply as Niederösterreich. The idea here is to continue to allow freedom of expression by individual growers using any of the 35 grape varieties permitted for this top level of wine – quality, or PDO, wine.
Since 2002, another six regions have signed up to DAC. In all but one either grüner veltliner and riesling or blaufränkisch are the chosen varieties.
In the Danube basin, Kamptal, Kremstal and Traisental have adopted DAC for grüner veltliner and riesling, which in all three areas comprise nearly two-thirds of plantings. In all three regions, both classic and reserve interpretations are permitted.
In Burgenland, Mittelburgenland and Eisenberg have declared classic and reserve DAC for blaufränkisch. Still in Burgenland, Leithaberg has broken the mould slightly by creating DAC for red, from blaufränkisch, and white from any of weissburgunder (pinot blanc), chardonnay, neuburger and grüner veltliner, singly or in combination.