A new Act on Viticulture and Viniculture of the Slovak Republic came into force on 1 August 2009. It brings novelty into the original classification concept of Slovak wines: appellation which enables Slovakia´s viticulture and viniculture to be included in the family of countries with advanced viticulture. The whole point of it is to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown as the most important quality factor of future wine. The Act further sets forth requirements on grape processing technology and how to take care for wine. Changes in the classification system and denotation of Slovak wines emphasize clear interpretation of a new structure of wine categories for general public (mainly merchants of wines and sommeliers) from the very beginning.
In 1996 when – after the revolution – new viniculture law came into force in Slovakia for the first time, we started to teach our consumers to distinguish domestic wines according to applicable classification structure. The aim of this was to help people realize that wines are not divided to good wines and bad ones, white and red, but that large differences exist between wines in terms of quality given predominantly determined by the quality of grapes they are produced from. Common consumer has thus step by step found out that cheap table wines whose labels have not a year on them, do not mention grape varieties, and do not indicate the name of the winery will not be a decoration of his table, but a drink to quench the thirst. Local, quality, single- varietal or branded wines whose labels contain all of the mandatory information guaranteed a certain level of quality. Top quality criteria, however, have only met by quality wines with attribute until now.
Though the new classification system retains the hitherto used “attributes” and the most exigent consumers of wines will likely continue to select wines in the category of wine with attribute, the worst wine categories will certainly be a problem because the term “table” wine has been canceled and all – even the worst wines – will be allowed to indicate their variety and year, and even the country of origin of grapes or wine on the labels. The issue is that it may be a low-class wine made from grapes with the minimum sugar content of 13 ?NM (or even lower in several European countries) and unlimited per-hectare yield.
1 August 2009 was thus a zero point and we have been accustoming to new designation of wines and terms, such as wine without geographic indication (hitherto designated “table wine”), regional wine (called local wine in the past), and wine with protected designation of origin (PDO). These will be including the currently existing quality wines and quality wines with attribute, which terms are becoming the so-called traditional ones. A new designation Districtus Slovakia Controllatus (abbreviation: D.S.C.), which should exclusively be granted to extraordinary, Slovak, best-quality wines, will be a true novelty.
Wines with protected designation of origin and Tokaj wines will be made subject to certification process which includes check-up of data stated in vineyard registry, chemical analysis of wine and its sensory evaluation by a special commission. This process is a good guarantee of quality of the wine offered, that is, recommendation of Slovak oenologists, wine experts, in selecting wines in wine shops or wholesale stores. We rely on common sense of Slovak consumers who, after having gathering experience in selecting wines of certain quality degree according to traditional classification for many years, can certainly resist the temptation of a nice bottle, etiquette, or exotic name of the country of origin. Not mentioning a “good price”.
Overview of changes in designation of Slovak wines according to grape quality and origin since 1 August 2009.
Original / new name of wine category
Wine without geographic indication;Original designation of the category: “table wine” has been valid in the EU countries until 1 8. 2009. After this date, table wines are allowed to be designated according to the name of the variety indicated on the labels and will be classified as “wine”.
Wine with geographic indication
The original name “local wine” will be replaced by “regional wine”. The traditional categories: quality wine, quality wine with attribute, winegrower’s sparkling wine, sekt V.O., and Tokaj wine remain valid.
Wine with protected designation of origin
The designation is based on appellation of the Slovak Republic. The traditional categories: quality wine, quality wine with attribute, winegrower’s sparkling wine, sekt V.O., and Tokaj wine remain valid.
Districtus Slovakia Controllatus (D.S.C.)
Top-quality wine with protected designation of origin (PDO) from Slovak appellations. Requirements on its production shall be determined by a special regulation.
Quality wines with attribute
The lowest sugar content of wine must
|Kabinett wine||19 °NM||Sane and fully mature grapes|
|Late harvest||21 °NM||Sane and fully mature grapes|
|Berry selection||23 °NM||Fully mature and entirely sane grapes from carefully selected bunches|
|Berry selection||26 °NM||Overripe grape bunches harvested by hand, from which immature and harmed bunches were removed from by hand|
|Raisin selection||28 °NM||Overripe grapes selected by hand|
|Nobly rotten raisin selection||28 °NM||Overripe grapes selected by hand ennobled by Botrytis cinerea Persoon, a filamentous fungus|
|Ice wine||27 °NM||Grape picked at the temperature of – 7 °C and lower which remained frozen during the picking and processing|
|Straw wine||27 °NM||Well-matured grapes stored at straw, reed mats, or hung up on twines in well-ventilated room for at least 3 months prior to the processing|