What Is A "TBA"?

We hear a lot about TBA wines. How they make an awesome dessert wine. How expensive they are! How smooth and sweet and a fruit orchard in your mouth. Here is some information I found about a TBA. The photo here is of one such wine from our cellar. AP right now? $427.00 for this magnum. The purchase price – purchased several years ago – is listed in the photo. This is a magnum. Usually you can only find it in 375ml bottles. Enjoy the information. Cheers!

What is TBA?

Trockenbeerenauslese (literal meaning: “selected harvest of dried berries”) is a German language wine term for a medium to full bodydessert wine.
Trockenbeerenauslese is the highest in sugar content in the Prädikatswein category of the Austrian and German wine classifications. Trockenbeerenauslese wines, often called “TBA” for short, are made from individually selected grapes affected by noble rot, i.e. “botrytized” grapes. This means that the grapes

have been individually picked and are shrivelled with noble rot, often to the point of appearing like a raisin. They are therefore very sweet and have an intensely rich flavor, frequently with a lot of caramel and honey bouquet, rock fruits note such as apricot and distinctive aroma of the noble rot. The finest examples are made from the Riesling grape, as this retains plenty of acidity even at the extreme ripeness. Other grape varieties are also used, such as Scheurebe, Ortega, Welschriesling, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer and many are more prone to noble rot than Riesling since they ripen earlier.

These wines are rare and expensive due to the labor-intensive method of production, and the fact that very specific climatic conditions (which do not necessarily occur every year) are required to create botrytized grapes. Some of the best wines of this type are sold almost exclusively at the various German wine auctions. They are usually golden to deep golden in colour, sometimes even dark caramel. The body is viscous, very thick and concentrated, and arguably can be aged almost indefinitely due to the preservative powers of its high sugar content. Although TBA has very high residual sugar level, the finest specimens are far from being cloying due to high level of acidity.

Trockenbeerenauslesen have also been in common production since the 1960s in Austria. Most TBA wines from Austria come from Neusiedlersee, Burgenland. On both sides of lake Neusiedl those wines are produced. East of the lake, the village of Illmitz is known for the production of “liquid gold”. At the western side of the lake in Rust and St. Margarethen, wine of exceptionally good quality can be found. This region is known for its wide and shallow lakes which can lose more than half their volume due to evaporation. The mists created by these lakes provide a very conducive climate for Noble Rot to shrivel grapes. The style is similar to, but much more concentrated than, Sélection de Grains Nobles from Alsace. In comparison to Sauternes, the wines are considerably sweeter, have a lower alcoholic strength and are usually not oaked. As with most other premium grade dessert wines, Trockenbeerenauslese is to a large extent sold in half bottles of 375 ml.

Notes from The Antique Wine Cellar: The product of unusual climactic conditions – which do not happen every vintage – Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) wines are some of the most labour–intensive in the world to produce. Translated from German as, “select harvest of dried berries,” when the autumn weather does cooperate, botrytis slowly spreads through the hillside vineyards, shrivelling the fruit and concentrating the flavours. The grapes for these intensely sweet wines are then picked one at a time and only the most perfect berries are utilised.

A collector’s dream, TBA wines may be cellared almost indefinitely due to their high sugar content. These sugars serve as a natural preservative and, in concert with Riesling’s high acidity, allow TBA wines to provide drinking pleasure for centuries. More intense than Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN) wines from Alsace and generally sweeter, lower in alcohol and without the oak influence found in Sauternes, TBA wines compete only with Essencia from Tokaji for the title of world’s longest–living sweet wine.

Normally, due to the production of such minute quantities, TBAs are only available by personally visiting producers or through one of the elite German wine auctions. [Generally that is a true statement, but not always!] However, we have now been given access to an exclusive collection of TBAs and we are making them available to you. Dating back to 1921, the selections include copious cases from the recent 2003 and 2010 vintages – both banner years for TBA wines. With 13 different producers to choose from, take this opportunity to stock away several cases for your grandchildren.

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