Both Spätlese and Auslese are two of Austria’s best types of wine for ageing. The ideal climatic conditions in the area of land between Austria’s northern and southern winegrowing regions allow the unique character of these wines to develop perfectly.
When the grapes remain on the vine for as long as possible in the autumn, the natural sugar in the berries becomes concentrated, thus reducing the acidity. As the name suggests, fruity, sweet wines obtain their sweetness from fully ripe, but not overripe, fruit.
Austria produces two types of fruity, sweet Prädikatswein: wines with the designation Spätlese come from grapes with a minimum must weight of 19° KMW. Auslese wines have a must weight of 21° KMW. For the latter, all immature, diseased or flawed berries are removed by hand (the name “Auslese” comes from ausgelesen, meaning “selected”).
The winegrowers’ painstaking work is well worth the effort as fruity, sweet wines exhibit exceptional finesse with mellow residual sweetness and a vibrant interplay of fruit and acidity. Some can be stored for a very long time, and this long wait is rewarded with phenomenal complexity. In contrast to noble sweet wines, fruit aromas are at the forefront of fruity, sweet vintages, regardless of their level of sweetness. As a result, they are often considered good harmonisers in a culinary sense because they pair just as well with desserts as they do with cheese or hot, spicy dishes. They also shine when drunk on their own and enjoyed simply, as a meditative glass of wine.
The ways in which these wines are enjoyed are just as varied as the grape varieties used to produce them: aromatic Muskat Ottonel or exciting Welschriesling from Burgenland, (Gewürz)Traminer from Steiermark, or even Neuburger, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Sophisticated wines are produced using Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from various winegrowing regions, as well as from the outstanding Spätlese and Auslese from two speciality varieties – Zierfandler and Rotgipfler – grown around Gumpoldskirchen.
The introduction of the Neusiedlersee DAC in 2020 marked the first protection of origin for the fruity, sweet wines of this category. This has enabled the winegrowing region to further emphasise the elevated status that the Prädikatswein has long enjoyed both locally and internationally.