Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dried Up

Botrytis cinerea is a fungus from a group that includes mushrooms and truffles. One of this mold's favorite hosts is grapevines. It overwinters in plant debris and attacks late in the growing season when nights are cool, mornings are foggy and the days are warm.

This "noble rot" penetrates the skin while preserving it's integrity. The resulting shrivelled clusters have increased concentrations of both acid and sugar. The balanced thick syrup is chilled and clarified and then warmed and inoculated with yeast nutrients. Because of it's Brix content of 35-45 degrees, the resulting wine could end up quite dry with a high alcohol percentage. But, the fermentation is chilled and filtered to produce wines that can bottle age for 10 years or more.

Grape varieties that are highly susceptible to Botrytis include Chenin Blanc, Sémillon and Riesling. Look for a Sauterne from France, a German dessert wine like a beerenauslese or for the richest, sweetest and honeylike wine, a trokenbeerenauslese.

Dried grapes are not limited to raisins, try a dessert wine today.