Saturday, October 31, 2009
Horror in the vineyards, dark clouds championing a horrendous rain, followed by days of humidity…and Riesling grapes succumbing to that creepy, sporulating, gray, parasitic mold called botrytis cinerea, the “noble rot” or “Edelfaule” of German fame. Oh no…scary mummies in the vineyard (insert scream!). But wait, you may recall an earlier blog of mine totally predicting this situation. (Sigh of relief)
Freemark Abbey makes a dessert wine from this stuff… called Edelwein Gold (noble wine). I know, it’s hard to imagine. When the rain hit a couple of weeks ago, the White Riesling was at 21.5 degrees brix (percent sugar), and ready if we were to make a dry style Riesling. But thank goodness for the rain. (this is one time I can say that) With the ensuing humidity, the individual grapes started to turn purple…then to shrivel....then to mummify and start to grow hair. Hair? Yes, think back when you were in biology class and looked at bread mold in the microscope. It is an advanced colony of mold that is growing palm tree like structures called sporangiophores, it is part of the sporulating process. Okay, enough about biology, how do we get wine out of this mess?
As you can see in the pictures, these vines were picked with micro shears, and the …fruit?...was dumped directly to the press. It takes a very patient, long pressing to get the juice out of these mummies. For us this year, the juice concentrated from 21.5 to 36 degrees brix…wow, what a sticky mess, and the yield was 60% of what we would expect for a dry Riesling style. The Edelwein Gold will be bottled in February or March. With this preamble to the process, what does the growth of botrytis do for the wine?
You may know what a lovely dry White Riesling tastes like. It typically is very fruity with spicy floral notes that resemble it’s cousin Muscat, with that hint of flint, or sometimes leechee nut with a bit of citrus. With the advance of botrytis cinerea, much of the Riesling flavors are concentrated in the remaining juice, and new flavors are created. After a long cold fermentation, with no barrel aging, the wine is bottled with flavors of apricot, peach, dried apricots, honey, honey suckle, I could go on but needless to say….it is an amazing transformation, with a long flavorful natural sweetness. I liken it to making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…
I hope I didn’t SCARE you away from trying our delicious Edelwein Gold, the 2008 is waiting for you.