Trockenbeerenauslese on German Wikipedia
| Trockenbeerenauslese on English Wikipedia
Some comments that would mean more to the collectors using Cellartracker than the general Wiki user. The Trockenbeerenauslese
was originally a category of wine made from botrytis-affected 'dried berries' (raisins) selected individually one at a time from a very ripe and prolonged harvest. However, the definition of Trockenbeerenauslese
was changed at the time of the 1971 German wine laws and makes no mention of the method or time of picking, since those laws defined Prädikatweine
based solely on ripeness of the grapes, measured by sugar concentration in the newly pressed must before fermenatation begins, with one infrequent exception--that is for Eisweine.
And the minimum ripenesses required were rather low, in the opinion of some, allowing a sort of quality inflation that worked to the benefit of the marketer but to the detriment of the consumer, some felt.
However, the most important thing to remember if you are one of the few who can afford to collect these wines, is that the style and quality is more dependent on the difficult and expensive choices made by the specific producer bound on enhancing the fame of his house, than by a number measured on a refractometer. That's why you can buy a "Trockenbeerenauslese" from a little-known producer, with what we would assume to be lower standards, for a seemingly more reasonable price, but buying a similary-designated wine from a passionate maker whose wines are in very high demand may literally cost hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars a bottle. These wines are not only highly sought after by those who know their potentially astonishing quality, but they are produced in miniscule amounts, often only a handful of bottles, and seldom more than a few hundred bottles, of the best wines.
A comment relevant to the Wikipedia article is that it seems to confuse harvest sugar level, on which the law set up, and residual sugar level, or aproximately the sweetness of the wine as bottled. The minimum harvest sugar required by the law is approximately 150 grams per liter; but these wines usually have more harvest sugar than that, to allow for the making of a quite sweet dessert-style wine even after much of the sugar is consumed by the yeast in the making of alcohol.
The residual sugar, by the way, in wines that haven't been chapitalized, and to which alcohol has not been added or removed is the sugar remaining or residing in the wine after some of it is consumed by fermentation. This residual sugar may be one contributor to a percieved sweetness in the wine, along with other factors. One could think that the concentration of residual sugar in Brix degrees (grams per 100 ml) is equal to the measured harvest sugar i(potential alcohol) in the same units minus the actual alcohol in the wine (for approximation ml alcohol per 100 ml wine) This concentration of residual sugar is expressed as percent potential alcohol, not grams per liter of fruit sugars. To get the actual sugar concentration it is necessary to multiphy the figure so obtained about 1.6. For instance, a wine that has a harvest sugar (as potential allcohol) of 21.5 percent and which has 8.5 percent alcohol by volume would have a calculated residual sugar level in potential alcohol of 13 percent, or a residual sugar of about 20.6 percent, calculated.
Although many factors influence percieved sweeetness, most amateur tasters don't percieve sweetness in wines until about 1 to 2 percent actual residual sugar is present. Until sugar levels are about 6 to 8 percent, these same tasters most often will describe the wine as definitely sweet. Above this level, wines are usually intended as dessert, and have a prominent sweetness as one of the most important components of taste.
Since German Prädikat wines are classified by level of harvest sugar, a table will tell you that the minimum value for a Trockenbeerenauslese is 150 degrees Oechsle. Dividing this number by 8 gives a rule-of-thumb measure of potential alcohol at harvest; for the low end of the scale for these wines, that would be about 18.8 degrees Brix, although 20 plus is a more common actual measurement. If a Trockenbeerenauslese has, say, 7.5 percent alcohol (not an uncommon figure), the residual sugar as potential alcohol is estimated at 18.8 - 7.5 = 11.3 degrees Brix. Multiplying this by 1.6, this comes to about 18 grams of resudal sugar per 100 ml--this is decidedly sweet, but not unusual at all for this style of wine. Thus Trockenbeerenauslesen are very sweet wines, commonly.