Can Rot Really be Noble?

September 28, 2011–Botrytis cinerea, also known as Noble Rot, attacked many vineyards in the Finger Lakes this fall after an extremely wet September.  While this type of rot can help create delicious late harvest wines, it’s not usually desirable in other wines.

Silver Thread Vineyard was largely spared this fall, but we got some amount of botrytis in the Chardonnay and Riesling.  For Chardonnay, we picked the rotten clusters and dropped them on the ground before harvesting the rest to ensure best quality.  For Riesling, where botrytis can add delicious honey character, we picked rotten clusters and fermented them separately.  So far, the wine seems fine.  We will keep it separate from the other Riesling for a while, then decide whether we will blend them together.

Despite the dark and sometimes even fuzzy appearance of botrytis-affected grapes, they actually taste really good.