F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

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K N Haque
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F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#1 Post by K N Haque » October 17th, 2020, 4:05 pm

https://www.winespectator.com/articles/ ... rom-labels

I am curious about people's thoughts. Personally, I like the Wachau system and this allows producers to keep making multiple dry bottlings from the same vineyard at different alcohol levels, unlike the current German system. Do you think other producers will follow Pichler?
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Nick Christie
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Re: F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#2 Post by Nick Christie » October 17th, 2020, 7:16 pm

Huh, very interesting. The real question will be how many Wachau producers will feel it's worth the headache/fight to revamp a system of terminology, or if the majority will simply say the terminology and branding work just fine.

I suppose, from Pichler's perspective (a House where I always try to maintain a few cases of wine from and value quite highly), the apprehension is to have Wachau terminology fall into the Alsatian model where terms don't really mean a whole lot and you really have to know your houses to figure out ripeness, richness, vineyard combinations. The article spells out the 'ripeness' conundrum, but doesn't exactly spell out what abandoning the terminology will yield from a branding standpoint, although it's clear they think they'll gain some vintner flexibility.

Genuinely have no idea whether this matters a little, a little more than a little, or frankly hardly anything at all...
Last edited by Nick Christie on October 17th, 2020, 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#3 Post by brigcampbell » October 17th, 2020, 7:27 pm

It won't matter on the big stage.

From my perspective, the best thing Austria did was the red and white strip caps.

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Cris Whetstone
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Re: F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#4 Post by Cris Whetstone » October 17th, 2020, 7:53 pm

It's been a long time since I studied my Austria. I thought they had a limited AOC style system already. Good on them for moving forward.

I think Pichler sees an opportunity with those designations to be more vineyard focused. Having to meet the constraints of the older ripeness level rankings could be limiting when you are trying to express a vineyard every year. Some years might not meet the level as most previous years which would cause a change in labeling and be confusing when you just want the consumer to see your vineyard designate wine.

Plus, it's just a bit confusing and out of place in the world of dry wines. People have a hard enough time with the sugar/must weight levels of the German wines. Straight ripeness on dry wines is probably not helpful in terms of marketing.

On top of that you have all these German producers making those dry Rieslings and calling them some approximation of 'Grand Cru' with zero track record. And people are buying those highly priced bottles. Pichler probably sees a place for Austria in that sort of market. As they should. I've never had one of those German GG's that bested the best Austrian Rieslings I've had. I've always been confused how they jumped to the front of the line.
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Re: F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#5 Post by K N Haque » October 17th, 2020, 8:03 pm

Cris Whetstone wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 7:53 pm
It's been a long time since I studied my Austria. I thought they had a limited AOC style system already. Good on them for moving forward.

I think Pichler sees an opportunity with those designations to be more vineyard focused. Having to meet the constraints of the older ripeness level rankings could be limiting when you are trying to express a vineyard every year. Some years might not meet the level as most previous years which would cause a change in labeling and be confusing when you just want the consumer to see your vineyard designate wine.

Plus, it's just a bit confusing and out of place in the world of dry wines. People have a hard enough time with the sugar/must weight levels of the German wines. Straight ripeness on dry wines is probably not helpful in terms of marketing.

On top of that you have all these German producers making those dry Rieslings and calling them some approximation of 'Grand Cru' with zero track record. And people are buying those highly priced bottles. Pichler probably sees a place for Austria in that sort of market. As they should. I've never had one of those German GG's that bested the best Austrian Rieslings I've had. I've always been confused how they jumped to the front of the line.
Austria does have an AOC system (the DAC), but Wachau has historically not participated and rather relied on the three-tiered must weight scale. I think your final point is interesting: that this is in some ways a rebranding and repositioning vis-a-vis the German GGs. And I agree with you: the best dry rieslings I have ever had have been Austrian, not German. I respect the fact that other on this board have had different experiences.

I am curious to see if Pichler's decision catches on, or if they go their own way, just as Koehler-Ruprecht did in Germany when it left the VDP over Prädikats- labeling with the "trocken" designation.
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Joe W i n o g r a d
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Re: F.X. Pichler leaves Vinea Wachau

#6 Post by Joe W i n o g r a d » October 17th, 2020, 10:34 pm

This makes total sense and there is every reason to expect other quality-minded domaines to follow.

The market is locked into pricing based on the designations and it’s widely acknowledged in the region that this creates perverse incentives for increased ripeness that run counter to improving quality.

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