08 January 2015

Three Christmas Wines from Austria

Right before the holidays, I received a trio of Austrian dessert wines from Kracher. Mom and my sister-in-law are fans of the sweeter style, so it was the perfect time to break out three late harvest bottles. On top of that, Julia became a fan of Tokaji a few years ago and it was interesting to serve her the Austrian equivalent.

Normally when I've got a bunch of wines for a group I will open everything and let people play and experiment on their own in a safe environment, but in this instance I insisted that everyone follow my guided tour to experience the increasingly complex levels of these three wines in small, elegant bottles. We got to go through the top three tiers of Germanic ripeness, when the juice becomes more and more concentrated, often influenced by the presence of botrytis.

2011 Kracher Auslese Cuvée
Burgenland, Austria
60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
$23, 12% abv.

Sweet and tart with a delicious lemon character, much like my late grandmother's lemon meringue pie. Bright and crisp, and one that would go well with a selection of soft white cheeses.

2011 Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvée
Burgenland, Austria
60% Welschriesling, 40% Chardonnay
$34/375mL, 11% abv.

Interesting to see the flip in the grape ratio on this next one. Deeper and duskier with more honey tones. The acidity is still firm but balanced by an even higher sugar content. At this level, I find myself not really wanting food to go along with it, just preferring to enjoy the dessert wine on its own in small doses.

NV Kracher Trockenbeerenauslese
Burgenland, Austria
55% Welschriesling, 40% Chardonnay, 5% Traminer
$28, 187mL abv.

I got a few well-natured laughs from my brother as I announced the "Trockenbeerenauslese" as a very special wine. But TBAs are special, and the grapes used to produce them have so little juice available that you'll often see the wines sold in small formats, and I admit that this 187mL size is just about perfect for something so sweet and rich. It has a lush aroma of honeysuckle and musk that is enchanting. On the palate it is like golden sunshine, and I would highly recommend it.

Note: These wines were provided as samples for review.

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