Trockenbeerenauslese, or TBA, is the German term for a medium to full-bodied sweet wine produced in Germany and Austria. When directly translated, it means ‘dried berry selection’ – because that’s exactly what it is!
This picture was taken 4 years ago on an old cellphone so the quality isn’t great, but you may be able to tell if you look closely that those grapes look a lot like raisins. Well, they pretty much are! We spent hours treading them and our legs were toast by the end! It was like trying to dance in sugary quicksand – SO sticky!!
TBA is made from individually selected botrytized* grapes that contain a high concentration of sugar. The botrytis gives the fruit delicious aromas of honey, caramel and apricot – notes that will dominate the nose of the final wine. Sugar levels in a TBA can be higher than 300 g/L, making these wines extremely suitable for ageing.
Riesling is a popular grape to make TBA with, because it’s able to achieve extreme ripeness and has naturally high acidity. Since acid and sweetness balance each other, the wine remains elegant and lively, rather than becoming syrupy-sweet or cloying.
TBA is the highest classification of quality wines with distinction, or ‘Prädikat’ in Germany and Austria. Because it is so difficult to produce, it is also the rarest and most precious.
*Botrytized grapes are grapes that have been affected by noble rot, or Botrytis Cinerea. This is a fungus that penetrates the skin of grapes allowing the water inside to evaporate slowly, concentrating the berries and leaving them shrivelled like raisins. There’s more to it than that, but I’ll save that for a post of it’s own.
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