Sweet Seduction from Austria

austrian_kratcher.jpgEarly in the New Year, members of The Sommelier India Tasting Panel met at short notice for a mini tasting of dessert wines from around the world sparked by the fact that I had been presented two bottles of Austrian sweet wines, writes Reva K.Singh. The wines were from well-known producer Lois Kracher.

They came via Vinod Bahl, F&B professional and master sommelier resident in Austria and were earnestly proffered as ideally suited to lightly spiced Indian cuisine.
Starting out with these gems lovingly described as liquid gold by Bahl, we ended up with a reasonable range that included in no special order a Late Harvest Chilean Reserva 2009 from Torreon de Paredes, Patricius Tokaji Aszú 2000 from Hungary, Sula Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2012 and Château Jolys Jurancon 2004.
The wines were tasted “blind” with the bottles in insulated bags that kept the bottles chilled while concealing their labels. As was to be expected, a lively discussion ensued when the bottles were unmasked and we compared our comments. Tasting wines and discussing them with experienced wine drinkers is an exercise I increasingly enjoy.
But to come back to the two wines from Austria, Auslese Cuvée 2011 was a pale yellow with aromas of peach blossom, honey and bananas with 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling. It had good complexity with a touch of lychee and mineral characters and a lingering citrus finish. Auslese is a classified sweet wine made from shrunken, raisin-like berries with atleast 45 g/l of residual sugar.
The second, Kracher Collection Trockenbeerenauslese 2010 was a luscious 100% Muskat Ottonel with subtle notes of candied orange zest, floral aromas and a touch of nutmeg. TBA is the highest category of sweet wine made from fully ripened, botrytised grapes.
Alois Kracher’s numbered golden label indicated it was a limited production, top-of-the-range product. In order to distinguish between the wines, in 1995 Kracher started numbering his wines according to their concentration. A perfectly balanced wine with density and finesse and highly complex aromas is labeled “Grande Cuvée”.
A proponent of Indo-European fusion cookery, Bahl wants to position these sweet wines as the perfect partner for Indian snacks and believes they will find favour with women (but also men) if sipped with samosas, pakoras and shammi kababs. Sweet wines are intensely flavoured and incredibly long-lived, and Kracher, without a doubt, makes some of the best.
Extracted from Sommelier India Issue 1, February-March 2014.The magazine is already in circulation. If you haven’t received your subscriber copy, email, info@sommelierindia.com

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