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F.X. Pichler quits Vinea Wachau

Renowned Austrian winery F.X. Pichler has left the Vinea Wachau association due to a disagreement over the continued use of old designations such as ‘Federspiel’ and ‘Smaragd’.

The move was announced as the Wachau region prepares to implement a number of requirements under the Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC) classification which was announced earlier this year and which will be applied to wines from the 2020 vintage.

Many of those requirements have been adopted wholesale from those already demanded by Vinea Wachau.

Lucas Pichler said he and his family, “absolutely appreciate the value of the new DAC on the whole, even if we regret that traditional varieties such as Gelber Muskateller and Neuburger may no longer carry their vineyard site. Under the new rules, they may only be filled as regional or village wines without a named vineyard.”

A greater problem, however, proved to be the categorisation of wines labelled as ‘Federspiel’ or ‘Smaragd’ which are based on must weights and potential alcohol.

As with all other DAC regions in Austria, wines from the Wachau will now be structured along three levels: regional, village and single-vineyard wines.

The Vinea Wachau board, however, also decided to keep its older designations based on must levels in addition to the DAC three-tier structure.

For Pichler, the introduction of the DAC system was the ideal moment to revise these older guidelines and restrict the use of Smaragd to top sites or even eliminate them altogether, particularly as, he said, “global warming has made [them] obsolete anyway”.

With these amendments not agreed upon by the Vinea board and no-one seeing eye-to-eye, Pichler took the decision to step down from his position there and withdraw the winery from the organisation.

He said: “It’s been a very painful step. My family has been an active part of the organisation for many years, and we owe a great deal to the system that was established back in 1983. We’re also close friends with many of the other members.”


This article has been corrected to note that the designations ‘Federspiel’ etc are based around must weight not residual sugar.

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