NOBLE ROT: a natural wonder




Botrytis cinerea is the name of a common rot that affects all kinds of fruits. Known also as the grey rot, it represents a common headache for producers all over the world.

It overwinters in dead wood and spores in spring when humidity and early morning mist create the perfect environment to thrive in. At this early stage it will damage grapes splitting the skin and exposing the fragile berries to other enemies.

Conventional and unconventional practises are adopted world wide to prevent and stop its spreading. In biodynamic agriculture horsetail tea is used to spray the vines, in conventional viticulture anti botrytis spray is a common practise to safeguard the crop. However botrytis can become noble rot when in the latest part of harvest the grape are already formed and contain the equivalent of 7% volume in alcohol. It punctures the berries isolating the tiny hole from other bacteria. Water evaporates (almost 70% will be lost) and berry’s will shrivel. Botrytis metabolizes sugar and acidity, increases glycerol, acetic acid and gluconic acid. Producers need to monitor their vines when botrytis affects the grapes. More then one harvest might be performed and it is crucial to pick at the right time.

Have you ever seen a noble rot bunch? In all honesty you might not like to see it (picture attached). You will never expect that from such poor bunches one of the most extraordinary wine in the world is made. Not all the grapes are suitable for botrytis, some of the most popular varieties are: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, Furmint and Gewurztraminer. France with their Sauternes, Hungary with the Tokaij, Germany with the auslese, beerenauslese e trockenbeerenauslese, Australia with noble rot grapes from Riverina (New South Wales), South africa, California and of course Orvieto in Italy are amongst the most extraordinary areas in the world. Muffa Nobile is the name used in Italy, which translates as Noble rot, or Pourriture Noble in French.

Light or amber colour, gold in some vintages the brilliant luminous appearance irradiates its own light. Flavours are often related to dry fruits: apricots, dates, honey and saffron, depending on the varieties nuts and floral notes are also a characteristic. The palate expresses pure pleasure: viscose, velvety texture, sweet and rich with fruit intensity, acidity is essential to counterpart the residual sugar and to leave a clean and defined finish. Try some almond based biscuits or cakes and for a true and unique experience blue cheeses are amongst our favourite choices.