There are 62 wineries within the DAC (Districtus Austriae Controllatus, Austrian equivalent to AOC) involved in this initiative to break into the UK market, initially.
The district is in the Burgenland, about 50 km south east of Viennaand is between the 400 metre high Leithaberg mountains and Lake Neusiedl. There are 15 wine communities in Leithaberg and the region is defined by the soil which is made up of gneiss, mica-slate and limestone. Locally it is known as “Leithakalk”.
One of the Leithaberg group leaders, Markus Altenburger said: “This is a very big step for us. To my knowledge, this is the first time that a group of Austrian vignerons has made concrete steps independently in the UK market.
“While we completely support all the work that the Austrian Wine Marketing Board does on behalf of Austrian wine in general and continue to work closely with them, we feel strongly that the UK market is the perfect target audience for Leithaberg wines and therefore worth the extra effort and investment on our own part,” he said.
Leithaberg DAC is the first DAC to have a regionally typical white and a regionally typical red; it is the aim of the Leithaberg group to define a recognisable style.
The following white grape varieties are allowed: Pinot Blanc, Neuburger, Grüner Veltliner and Chardonnay. White wines may be a single variety or a blend of any of the four approved varieties.
For reds, only Blaufränkisch is allowed. The Leithaberg group believes that conditions for growing Blaufränkisch in Austria cannot be bettered than in the Leithaberg region and it is their ultimate aim not only to put Leithaberg wines on the map, but Leithaberg Blaufränkisch too.
To achieve Leithaberg status all wines are tasted and must show a minerality associated with Leithaberg wines. The DAC states that hey must be close-knit, with an “inner tension”.
Altenburger said: ‘Our wines are all in the premium or reserve category and our aim is to spread the word about the quality and character of Leithaberg wines slowly and in a very bespoke, targeted way.”
“We would like Leithaberg to become a distinctly recognisable style and see a real opportunity with our Blaufränkisch, which we believe is the Burgundy of Austria,” he said.