Austria: Wine labelling

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Austria shares much of its wine vocabulary with germany, but a term can vary significantly in both the extent to and meaning with which it is employed in each country. Austrian wine law enshrines the term Kabinett for unchaptalized, dry Qualitätswein (Austria’s equivalent of pdo) of up to 13% alcohol and from grapes of at least 17 °KMW (84 °oechsle). But in practice the term is seldom employed and where wines are so-labelled this is usually in small print. The term Spätlese imposes a higher minimum must weight and may be applied to wine with tasteable residual sugar. But in practice that term is increasingly absent from Austrian wine labels. With the advent of dac legislation, the term Reserve has effectively replaced Spätlese in those regions where that term was used for dry wines, while Klassik is used for wines formerly labelled Kabinett. There is, however, some use of the term Spätlese in Burgenland for lightly sweet wines from largely botrytis-free grapes. The official Austrian Prädikats of Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Trockenbeerenauslese apply to wines of incrementally higher minimum must weights and with noticeable residual sugar. They are used throughout the country but in practice are common only in those sectors of Burgenland that specialize in botrytized sweet wine, which is also where the more specialized categories of Strohwein (straw wine), eiswein, and ausbruch are almost exclusively used. It can be safely assumed that an Austrian wine is dry-tasting unless it is labelled prominently with one of the so-called Prädikats. Growers therefore rarely use the word trocken (less than 9g/l residual sugar) prominently on their labels.