Now I know my Wine-phabet: B is for Botrytis

Posted on May 30, 2012

In this new series called “Now I know my Wine-phabet”, I will explore letter by letter wine and what I believe are some of the most important and/or influential aspects in the world of wine.  Since I am only choosing one topic per letter, many will be missed.  Hopefully these posts come across as being whimsical and informative.  Have fun reading over the next 25 weeks!

What is that mold and rotting fungus growing on my grapes?  What is so noble about it?  For many years, grapes infected by Botrytis were deemed ruined, and thrown away.  It wasn’t until courageous winemakers dared to make wines from these “diseased” prunes, that we saw it’s magic.  Botrytis is like a parasite that sucks the water from the grape and in its place leaves a shriveled berry with a mere tear of nectar.  It is in that tear that we see why wines made from these berries are so said to be noble and come with a high price tag.  The final product is juice with intense aromatics, rich sweetness and lively acidity.  The only problem is that it takes the right amount of humidity for it to occur, no more no less.  Lucky are Bordeaux, Hungary, Canada and Germany.  Ahhh Botrytis!  How is it that something so ugly tastes so pretty!

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