#newwinethisweek Week 20 – Sweet Wine, Noble Rot
Last week was all about Furmint, where we focussed on the dry style, as opposed to the sweet nectar for which it is world-famous… so it kinda makes sense that Mike has decided that this week we will focus on sweet wines, or more precisely, sweet wines made using the very natural technique of Noble Rot:
There’s no nice way to put this, but Noble Rot happens when the fungus known as Botrytis Cinerea infects ripe grapes. As well as longer hanging time on the vine, for Noble Rot to happen, moist conditions are required for Botrytis to set in, followed by a period of dry weather. During this time the grapes become dry and raisined, as the Noble Rot removes water from the grapes, intensifying the sugars and the acids. At this time the vintner prays for good weather as too much rain can bring on the nasty “grey rot” that can destroy the grapes.
The most famous botritysised wines come from Tokaji in Hungary, Sauternes in France and the fabulous late-harvested Beerenauslese (“selected harvest of berries”) or Trockenbeerenauslese (“dried berries selection”) Rieslings of Germany and Austria. The most famous of all comes from Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux, where the grapes are so concentrated it is sometimes claimed that each vine only produces enough juice for a single bottle, each bunch enough for a single glass!
Wines affected by Noble Rot have high levels of sweetness and acidity, the best achieving an incredible balance of the two. Some flavours associated with botrytis include honey, ginger and beeswax… personally I find a hit of marmalade that would get Paddington Bear excited is a sure sign!
I am very exciting about the week as I love sweet wines, especially those made in this way. So here are a few suggestions to get stuck into – these wines are never cheap as so much work goes into making them; also the majority come in half bottles (375ml) but remember, a little goes a long way…
The vote will take place on Mike’s blog this week so pick up a bottle and get slurping!