The Kracher Auslese Cuvee has an SRP of $23 and is available for as low as $17.99 for a 375ml bottle. While technically that puts it under our $20 limit, since it's a half bottle we're covering this one as a Saturday Splurge. Imported by Terlato Wines International. 2,500 cases produced. Sample submitted for review.
From the winery:
The wines from the Weinlaubenhof have long been in a class of their own. Practically no other sweet wines have reached such a high level of recognition worldwide and only a few have come close to the high ratings Kracher wines continuously receive. Around the world, Kracher has become the synonym for noble sweet wines of ultimate perfection.
This is an interesting wine in a lot of different ways. First off, it's a dessert wine, but not from one of the usual spots like France, Spain, Italy or Portugal. I can't say I was familiar with a lot of sweet wines from Austria before trying this one, but it shouldn't be a surprise given the excellent ones found in nearby places like Slovenia and Hungary.
Second, the Kracher Auslese Cuvee is a blend of Chardonnay and a variety called Welschriesling, which you might suppose is just another name for the Riesling grape we all know and love (and that Austria does so well). It turns out that it is a completely unrelated variety that is grown mostly in Central Europe (Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic and Hungary). Some more investigation (i.e. drinking) will need to be done to research this!
And lastly, like so many good dessert wines, the grapes used developed Botrytis. This is consistent vintage to vintage in this area, which helps make it such a prime location for sweet wines. (For more info on Botrytis check out our post: Noble Rot? I Like It A Lot!)
Do all these factors, while certainly interesting and educational, actually add up to a tasty wine? Yes, yes they do.
The 2011 Kracher Auslese Cuvee begins with a very pleasant and very aromatic nose full of lemon, honeysuckle, green apple, melon and orange blossom. The wine tastes nicely sweet (it has 72 g/L of residual sugar), but nowhere close to syrupy, and features lots of grapefruit along with tangerine, green apple, lemon and pear flavors. It also has a wonderful texture and mouthfeel. The whole thing is balanced by very good acidity (so much so that it almost makes your teeth hurt, but in a good way). All the tart fruit flavors turn a bit salty on the long finish which adds a nice mineral dimension to the wine.
See a listing of local retailers selling this wine here.