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An outcry went through the wine world, for different motives depending on the continent. For the American wine producers it was a jubilation of victory, they had won their interests in the WTO negotiations with Europe. Now it can also dawn on us, the brave new world of wine as imagined by the big wine factories in the land of unlimited possibilities. Everything that is now also to be allowed in Europe (and practically has to be) has long been common practice in the USA.

We got a small foretaste of this some time ago. Quite inconspicuously, practically through the back door, must concentration came into use with two methods - at first clandestinely, pioneered by France, but soon legalised. With two methods, inverse osmosis and vacuum evaporation, must can be concentrated. Even then, opinions differed, and very quickly the vast majority of interested producers turned to reverse osmosis. Certainly not only for financial reasons - only must can really be concentrated by evaporating water under vacuum, whereas reverse osmosis also makes it possible to concentrate wine. Of course, this is not allowed - a rogue who thinks evil. All imaginable arguments and pseudo-arguments have to be used to justify this rather powerful correction of nature. "It is much more honest to remove water from the must than to add sugar," "This is only done to get the rainwater out of a rainy harvest," "You can only concentrate the best musts anyway, because with bad material you also concentrate the negative," "The device is so expensive," etc. pp. This is at best only half the truth, and the last "argument" is a joke in view of the millions of euros spent on cellars and presentation buildings everywhere - a VW Golf is more expensive. The big hulks suddenly appeared even in weaker years, much to Mr Parker's delight and that of those who couldn't chew their fill of these fruity, fruity, chocolaty things. Unfortunately, besides R. Parker, many other journalists and wine critics belonged and still belong to this group. Somehow, it has to be said, things seem to be going quite well. Hardly anyone has yet had a proper taste of concentrated, unripe substances. Yes, such a concentrator is quite something, especially if you then "retouch" a bit, which is somewhat easier with red wines than with white wines. So the first inhibitions fell away years ago.

The other outcry, the European one, was a horrified one - but only from the corner of the quality winegrowers with very specific soils, the burnt children and the up-and-comers who, long after joining the EU, are now speaking out wine-wise. So three states have voted, unfortunately in vain, against the American dictate: Germany, Austria and Portugal. The cry of the "unteachable and happy" enlightened consumers, who see with unease what is coming, is still too quiet - for the time being.

It will only be really nice when the blessings of modern technology, chemistry and physics are also allowed to take full effect in wine. The wine will be perfumed with oak chips, or even better with wood powder, and the tannin will first be removed by fining and replaced by anything from the bottle. Grape seed, skin and wood tannins are available, even more delicious in a skilful mix, and then the absolute mega-tasty peak is stormed by means of cassis, berry and dark cherry aromas, along with a little chocolate. We've known about chipped wines ("oaked" was written on the back label) for a while now, too, and these are the really great ones that easily outdo a Château Latour, at 3.99, mid-range. Oh yes, too much alcohol? No problem, just put it in the spinning cone column, which is not yet allowed in the EU, but can't be prevented either. If it's too much, just add a shot of water, which is allowed up to 35%. Take the opportunity to soften the "wine" a little and remove the undesirable vintage note - it should always be equally delicious and have a brand taste. And with Riesling and Chardonnay? Here we can really fractionate (disassemble) the puny candidates, take something away and/or add something according to our whim, then put them together - their own daddy won't recognise them afterwards.

What, you think that's creepy, and above all, unjustifiably exaggerated? But no, it's already at the door, it'll be here tomorrow. Besides, there are also experts (e.g. Dr. Christmann, delegate of the OIV) who are vehemently in favour of all this so that we don't have a competitive disadvantage, so that we can adapt our wine to the globalised uniform taste. I find the arguments why this is not so wild, why a kind of "purity law" is illusory, curious! The only threat is that then improvement (enrichment of the musts with sugar), deacidification, acidification, some finings and the addition of sulphur can be called into question. So what, I ask? So THAT is what should make the quality wine grower tremble in horror? Sure, large farms are partly dependent on it, they also account for the majority of exports, and would indeed have to face competitive disadvantages here. But this does not change the fact that committed quality businesses will be massively affected by the new regulations.

Medium-capacity centrifugal cone column

Another tidbit: the Americans have fought vehemently and successfully against the fact that these manipulations have to be posted. Among other things, with the threat to enforce, in case of non-acceptance, that every European wine export to the USA would have to be certified according to an extremely strict, above all elaborate food standard.

Yes, yes, the declaration of manipulations would be a serious competitive disadvantage (!), discrimination, the consumer must not find out about it..... So in the future, producers will compete against each other with "fair" means, one in the laboratory, the other in the steep slope, of course for the 3.99 at the end, of course. Here the losers, at least on the larger markets, are certain from the outset. It's astonishing when you consider what kind of sermon has to be written everywhere in the USA, right down to the cat that can't be spun, but in the case of wine, nothing in this regard. Wait, sure, pregnant women shouldn't, alcohol is addictive, sulphur is in it....but nothing about aromatics and co. Glutamates would also be conceivable there, it's all just a question of time.

The fact is that these, perhaps somewhat exaggerated, techniques and practices will have to be permitted in Europe within a short time. Of course, these production methods do not have only bad sides: with simple, more or less standardised wines trimmed to a certain taste, one can win many people for wine itself. This is by no means to advocate the use of alcohol, let alone its abuse. But once wine has been identified as the preferred alcoholic beverage, sooner or later a really interesting drop can be found, which can then form the transition to a gourmet or wine lover.

This is where the Codex Wachau - the Charter of Pure Wine - comes in, which was presented on Thursday, 11 May. The speeches of the three winegrowers who make up the board of Vinea Wachau already demonstrated the seriousness of the hour. Concentrated and full of justified optimism, Franz Hirtzberger once again explained the individual quality levels of Vinea Wachau, namely Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. For this already describes the basic features of the Charter wines. No enhancement, no concentration, no additives, the wines must be dry, the grapes must come from the Wachau, and they must be bottled in the Wachau. These points are already strictly controlled. In addition, however, the 200 members of Vinea Wachau, who cultivate 85% of the total Wachau wine area, unanimously decided on even stricter controls for the future. For this purpose, the cooperation with the Federal Institute for Viticulture was further intensified. The individual additional controls (among others, a secured control of the prohibition of improvement) cost more money, but safety and confidence-building for the consumers take precedence for these winegrowers without compromise.

(vlnr) Emmerich Knoll (Winery Knoll% Member of the Board Vinea Wachau)% Mag. Barbara Schwarz (Mayor of Dürnstein)% Dr. Erwin Pröll (Governor of Lower Austria)% Franz Hirtzberger (Winery Hirtzberger% Member of the Board Vinea Wachau)% DI Toni Bodenstein (Winery Prage Member of the Board Vinea Wachau)279

The Codex Wachau is to be understood as a set of rules through which the wines reflect the area and also the vintage in detail. In a very emotional speech, Emmerich Knoll made a plea for the "imperfect" wine. What may sound nonsensical at first is absolutely right. Only the small "imperfections", corners and edges give the wine character, contour, support, in short, make it a real child of the region, result in the so-called terroir. Perfect, smooth, styled wines, says Knoll, may be popular for a while, but then become boring because of their impersonality. Of course, highly technical wine processing is ultimately a considerable simplification for the winegrower. What falls by the wayside is the character, the personality of the wine, and, in my opinion, also of the winemaker. For Knoll, the so-called uncomfortable path is the only viable one, and 199 fellow winegrowers share his view, for the time being for the Wachau. This voluntary self-restriction is not intended to discriminate against other wines or producers, but to guarantee the greatest possible security, trustworthiness and independence of the Charta wines.

In this way, one can feel the input of nature in the glass, to put it in modern terms, these wines differ considerably from the "doped" ones (Toni Bodenstein). The Wachau was already a region with very distinctive single vineyards, which the interested wine lover can very well distinguish. In addition, there are striking differences with regard to the area around Loiben/Dürnstein, Weißenkirschen/Wösendorf and Spitz.

And this diversity, with all its common features, is what Vinea Wachau would like to spread, to join forces with other regional and supra-regional associations, also with individual winegrowers, with the Charter of Pure Wine as a basis. "Charter of Natural Wine" would be more appropriate, but not quite right, if one wants to be meticulous.

Already, connections are being established with interested winegrowers from Switzerland, Italy and, still with little response, Germany. One can only hope that this charter with its strict control regulations and specifications will now find favour with many European wine producers and associations. Because the threat that is now looming is a serious one, because for many it will soon be existential. For this reason, both Vinea Wachau and the responsible politicians see this charter in a non-judgemental way, as a good for all, under whose roof a solid house can be built.

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