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Best Producers

Austria: Austrian Dessert Wines

What About Austrian Dessert Wines?
Austria makes some of, if not the finest sweet wines in the world. Though American consumers are still largely unfamiliar with them, it will only be a matter of time before these wines become as coveted here as they are already in parts of Europe. For connoisseurs of the exotic and rare Botrytis-affected wines of the world, Austria’s Neusiedlersee, or Lake Neusiedl, will soon become a household world.

The lake itself is the key to the wine’s production. It is shallow and warm with an area of nearly 60 square miles, and it is situated in the warmest part of Austria on the Hungarian border. Indeed, this area was a part of Hungary until 1921. The land surrounding the lake is flat, marshy, and humid, and in no other area of the world with the possible exception of Hungary’s Tokay, does the noble rot, Botrytis Cinerea, attack grapes so reliably, year in and year out. While Botrytis visits the great sweet wine areas of France and Germany such as Sauternes, only once in every few vintages, it is rare for the Neusiedlersee to have a year without Botrytis.

Great sweet wines have been made here for several hundred years, but the problems of Phyloxera, two world wars, and a Russian occupation of the region until 1956 were followed by the wine scandal of the ’80s. Unfortunately, the 20th century has not been kind to the growers of Neusiedlersee. Once the Russians left in 1956, however, the way was cleared for a heavy reinvestment in the vineyards, and the general renaissance of Austrian wine and wine making as a whole has only served to raise the quality of the area’s wines that much further. As the 21st century is upon us, it is possible to say that from a quality perspective, Neusiedlersee has retaken its rightful place in the world of viticulture.

Due to the certainty of the conditions, production of Beerenausleses, Trockenbeerenausleses, and Eisweins is relatively regular and the supplies (compared to Germany, for instance) are abundant. This means that the wines, though still somewhat expensive, are often offered at a fraction of the price of their French and German counterparts. Additionally, the Neusiedlersee produces an indigenous type of sweet wine that is one of the world’s most exotic—Ausbruch.

In the traditional production of Ausbruch, the wine maker adds fresh non-Botrytis affected grapes, or fresh must to the fermenting wine. This helps to keep the fermentation going when there is inherently so much sugar and so little liquid in the must. The result is a wine with a higher (and better-balanced) alcohol level, and a more vinous character than corresponding German wines. Furthermore, Ausbruchs are often aged in casks until they develop a touch of rancio, an oxidized sherry-like character. The resultant wine can be mind bogglingly complex, with tobacco, herb, and yeast nuances overlaid with the more typical ripe fruit flavors associated with Botrytis. Additionally, the wine’s acidity is nowhere near the piercing levels that accompany many German wines of similar sweetness (usually eisweins), often making them far more pleasant in youth. All this makes for what was this year, as was last, and probably for many years to come, some of the very finest dessert wines made in the entire world.

Premier Producers
Matthias Achs (Eiswein)
Dinstlgut Loiben (TBA)
Feiler Artinger (Ausbruch)
Freie Weingärtner Wachau (Riesling TBA)
Tobias Friedrich (Ausbruch, Eiswein, TBA)
Fritsch (Eiswein)
Familie Goldenits (TBA)
Gsellmann & Gsellmann (TBA)
Haider (BA, TBA)
J & E Holler (TBA)
Hopler (Ausbruch, TBA)
House of Hafner (Eiswein, Barrique TBA)
Johanneshof Reinisch (Eiswein, TBA)
Kollwentz-Romerhof (BA, TBA, Eiswein)
Alois Kracher (BA, TBA, Eiswein)
Harald & Christine Kraft (Genesis Ausbruch)
Weinbau Kraft (TBA)
Helmut Lang (Ausbruch, Eiswein, TBA)
Melitta & Matthias Leitner (Eiswein)
Franz Lentsch (Barrique BA)
Josef Lust (Eiswein)
Malat (Riesling TBA)
Mantlerhof (TBA)
MichlitsStadlmann (Ausbruch)
Lenz Moser (TBA)
Münzenrieder (TBA)
Nittnaus (Premium Eiswein)
Martin Pasler (TBA)
Pittnauer (Eiswein)
Radetzky (Eiswein, TBA)
Riedenhof Kadlec (TBA)
Peter Schandl (Furmint Ausbruch)
Schlosskellerei Halbturn (Eiswein)
Schönberger (Ausbruch)
Heidi Schröck (Gelber Muskateller Ausbruch)
Schuckert (Eiswein)
Schwarz (Eiswein)
Friedrich Seiler (Ausbruch)
Steindorfer (Eiswein, Scheurebe & Muskat Ottonel TBA)
Taurot (Liquid Gold Chardonnay)
Ernst Triebaumer (Ausbruch)
Herbert Triebaumer (Ausbruch)
Hans Tschida, Angerhof (Schilfwein, TBA)
Moorhof A. Unger (TBA)
Dr. Wolfgang Unger (Eiswein, TBA)
Weinrieder (Eiswein)
Franz Wimmer (TBA)
Winzerhaus (TBA)
Wohlmuth (Elite Eiswein)
R. Zimmerman (Ausbruch)


Great Producers
Alzinger (BA)
Diwald (Eiswein)
Alfred Fischer (Eiswein, TBA)
Freie Weingärtner Wachau (TBA)
Gesellmann (TBA)
Richard Goldenits (Eiswein)
Hammer (Ausbruch)
Graf Hardegg (Eiswein)
Stefan Hoffmann (Ausbruch, TBA)
J & E Holler (Ausbruch)
Hollerer (Eiswein)
Jäger (TBA)
Josef Jurtschitsch, Sonnhof (TBA)
Keringer (BA)
Emmerich Knoll (BA)
Harald & Christine Kraft (Ausbruch)
Weinbau Kraft (Ausbruch)
Gunter Krikler (TBA)
KummerSchuster (BA, Eiswein)
LacknerTinnacher (Eiswein)
Josef Leberl (BA)
Franz Lentsch (TBA)
Mantlerhof (BA)
Ilse Mazza (BA)
MichlitsStadlmann (TBA)
Münzenrieder (BA)
Nekowitsch (Schilfwein, TBA)
Nigl (TBA)
Nittnaus (TBA)
Pannonia (TBA)
Josef Pockl (BA, TBA)
Christian Rainprecht (TBA)
Peter Schandl (Ruster Ausbruch)
Schlamberger (TBA)
Schlosskellerei Halbturn (Ausbruch, BA, TBA)
Heidi Schröck (Ruster Ausbruch)
Rebhof Sommer (TBA)
Steindorfer (Ausbruch, Zweigelt TBA)
Alois Steiner (Eiswein)
Richard Thiel (TBA)
Paul Triebaumer (Ausbruch)
Umathum (TBA)
Velich Apetlon (BA, TBA)
Harald Zierer (TBA)
A. Zimmerman (Eiswein)
Ziniel (Ausbruch)


Dependable Producers
Some producers placed in this third tier are new (or new to us) and may merit a higher placement in subsequent vintages. These producers are offset by an asterik.
Alphart (TBA)
H & E Beck (BA)
Familie Bauer (Eiswein, TBA)
A. Deim (Eiswein)
Josef Ehmoser (Eiswein)
Feiler Artinger (BA)
Gesellmann (BA, Eiswein)
Richard Goldenits (BA, TBA)
Hasenöhrl (Ausbruch, BA)
Haus Marienberg (TBA)
Herzinger (Eiswein)
House of Hafner (TBA)
Egmont Höfinger (BA, Eiswein)
Josef Jamek, Joching (BA)
Kaisergarten (Ausbruch, BA, TBA)
Kloster am Spitz (Putto)
Gunter Krikler (Eiswein)
Hermann M. Kroyer (TBA)
KummerSchuster (TBA)
Markowitsch (Ausbruch, BA, TBA)
Michlits*Stadlmann (Strohwein)
Lenz Moser (BA)
Münzenrieder (Eiswein, TBA)
Ochs (Ausbruch, Eiswein, TBA)
Opitz (TBA)
Pleil (Ausbruch)
Franz Proidl (TBA)
Christian Rainprecht (Ausbruch)
Rosenhof (Ausbruch)
Schlosskellerei Albrecht Habsburg (Ausbruch)
Schönberger (TBA)
Heidi Schröck (BA)
Leopold Sommer (Ausbruch, TBA)
Franz Stadlmann (Eiswein, TBA)
Taurot (Eiswein)
Manfred Tement (TBA)
Ernst Triebaumer (BA)
Herbert Triebaumer (Eiswein)
Franz Wimmer (Ausbruch)
WinklerHermaden (TBA)
Harald Zierer (BA)

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