The Austrian Sparkling Wine Committee celebrated Austria’s Oct. 22 Sparkling Wine Day by giving their devoted following a present: a new three-tier classification system for their sparkling wines.
According to an ASWC press release, the purpose of the pyramid is to emphasize grape origin and maturation on lees.
The first level of the pyramid represents the basic quality requirements for a sparkling wine. At this level, the majority of the grapes in the wine must be of Austrian origin and the wines must have matured for at least nine months on the lees.
Second-level wines include the basic requirements while meeting the following requirements: produced according to the traditional method (including bottle fermentation), grapes must be from a an Austrian wine-growing region and their maturation on the lees must be at least 18 months.
The top level of the pyramid is reserved for sparkling wines which, in addition to being bottle-fermented, originate from a single Austrian wine community, hit store shelves at least three years after harvest and must have matured on the lees for at least 30 months.
The ASWC noted that these explanations also include a subset of detailed regulations concerning quality assurance.
“The focus here includes the work in the vineyard, harvesting, hand picking, packing heigh, rate of yield and gentle pressing,” the release said. “Criteria for the sparkling base wines and for the checking and control of the quality levels are being developed and defined in detail over the coming months.”
The committee hopes to incorporate these standards into the country’s forthcoming 2015 Wine Law. The new standards, the ASWC said, will put top-level Austrian sparkling wines at the same level as some of the world’s heavyweight sparkling regions.
“The top category in the pyramid is on a par with the highest standards maintained by the world’s leading sparkling wines … and in certain aspects, even surpasses them,” the release said.
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