In compliance with German Wine Law, an Auslese wine is a superior quality predicate wine made from fully ripened grapes and has a minimum must weight of 95 °Oechsle. In Baden an Auslese must have a must weight of at least 102 °Oechsle, regardless of the grape variety. The minimum must weight for Austrian Auslese wines is 105 °Oechsle.
Auslese – With and Without Botrytis Notes
The character and quality of an Auslese wine is defined by the ripeness of the berries and their sugar content at time of harvest. In regard to the harvest, only fully ripened, golden-yellow grapes are permitted for wines labelled with the quality standard Auslese. Grapes that have been afflicted with noble rot (Botrytis cinerea) on the vine have to be picked by hand. For the high quality standards of Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese, handpicking is prescribed by law. In addition, the berries with noble rot must already be dry on the vine before picking can begin. Most German Auslese wines are produced from the Riesling grape variety or the Scheurebe. Their fruity and mineral notes together with the Botrytis notes (if applicable), give this wine its special character.
The Growing Popularity of Trockenbeerenauslese Wines
Trockenbeerenauslese translates roughly to ‘handpicked dried grapes’. This type of Auslese wine is almost always vinified as a sweet wine, which results in wines with a relatively low alcohol content and a harmonic blend of acidity and fruity-lush sweetness. The trend in German wineries has, however, moved toward the production of dry Auslese wines with a traditional alcohol content and a more distinctive all-round character. The true character of Auslese wines develops only after a long period of maturation. They do not lose their drinkability even after five to ten years. Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines can be aged in the bottle for several decades.