Salzburg Showdown: Kracher Vs. Schandl

Oliver Sedlinger, Stefan Fleischer, his friend Vera and I tried some Austrian wines a few weeks ago. (Disclosure: Oliver’s friend makes the Schandl wines tried and Palette Vino, where Stefan works, distributes them.)

First was a Schandl Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, the first Austrian red I’ve tasted. It had tobacco, spice and black cherry on the nose, though the fruit explosion on the tongue was a bit much. We let the wine breath and the fruit flavors evened out, giving us a palatable wine with a strong cherry and slightly berry finish.

“This wine has restrained tannins and is exceptionally fruity, which is not typical of a Cabernet. Californian and Australian are heavy on tannins,” said Stefan. He added, “That’s a wine that really needs to breath,” to which Oliver added, “It appreciates breathing,” to which I added, “So do I.”

Next was the Kracher Cuvee Beerenanslese 2003 (ASC Fine Wines) and Schandl Cuvee Beerenanslese 2003, two sweet wines. The flavor and aroma of the Kracher was full-on honey, with a few floral scents on the nose. It was sweet and filling – nice. In contrast, the Schandl had a light and fruity nose with hints of sour apples. Stefan noted the acidity was noticeable in the Shandl, but not the Kracher.

Both sweet wines were appealing. From a marketing standpoint, the consistent and rich Kracher seems a better sell – it’s dependable and safe. The Schandl on the other hand is a bit more complex, something you might sit down, taste and talk about. Why not try both, I say, and stick in a Canadian ice wine and a Hungarian Tokai to boot?

(Note: We tasted these wines at Cafe Pause, in Dashanzi, where Stefan is co-owner. We also tried some new menu items, including bacon, mushroom and pistachio dumplings with lemon butter and deep-fried wonton shrimp with soy / wasabi sauce.)

(This story first appeared in issue 32 of the Beijing Boyce e-newsletter, mailed on March 1, 2007. It was published on March 22, 2007, on

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