13 Jul 2012 No Comments
Master Sommelier at the Borrowdale Hotel, Stephen Wilcock takes us through the interesting and unusual use of rotten grapes to produce deliciously sweet wines.
It seems strange to think but some of the best sweet wine produced in the world is made from rotten grapes .Well I mean grapes that have a mould growing on them; Botrytis cinerea or noble rot. This mould is only useful when the grapes are ripe and destined in to sweet wine – if not fully ripe the mould is called grey rot and will ruin the crop.
To book a wine tasting session in the stunning wine cellar call the Borrowdale Hotel on 017687 77224.
It’s the misty autumn mornings when the mould can grow on the outside of the grape, the spores piercing the skins. In the afternoon the sun comes out and warms the grapes and some of the moisture will escape through the holes thus concentrating the sugars and acidity in the grape.
This reduces the crop but gives luscious sweet wines. It is thought that it was first discovered when the harvest in Tokay was held up due to marauding Turks. When harvested the grapes were moldy but produced this great wine.
The ancient region of Tokay produces the king of wines and the wine of kings. Queen Victoria used to receive as a birthday present a bottle of wine per month of her age, on her 81st birthday she received 972 bottles!
The sweetest wine comes from Tokay and is called essential and it is only made from the juice that comes from the grapes themselves. Without pressing it is so sweet that the fermentation lasts ages and produces only about 5% alcohol and so legally isn’t wine.
In Germany, famous for its sweet wine, there are different categories of quality wine. The first is Kabinett – the kind of wine you would put in your own cabinet! The next is Spatlese which means late harvest, next is Auslese, selected bunches, then Beerenauslese, selected individual berries, and Trockenbeerenauslese, made from shriveled and dried berries. This of course makes the wine expensive but worth it.
Some vines at Château d’Yquem in Sauternes only produce a glass of wine a year (when asked if they were too expensive the reply was they are not made for everyone, only those that can afford them.)